This plant was spotted in Robertson by Ryno Botha in August 2018.
Dr Paul Hills, the current SAAB President helped us with the identification.
Dr Paul Hills: “From your photographs, I am fairly confident it is Hyobanche sanguinea. This is a very interesting plant as it is completely parasitic on other plants, it has no leaves of its own at all and therefore cannot photosynthesize. It produces an underground haustorium which infects the root system of a neighbouring plant and which allows it access to the host plant’s nutrient resources. The only time one generally sees the plant at all is when the flowers emerge, which is what you photographed. Obviously this means you will only see it if you are lucky enough to come across it during flowering time, so it is rather a special find! I was also fortunate enough to spot several examples a few years ago at the Agulhas National Park”.
This species is on the Red List of South African plants (Threatened Species List). Want to know more about this plant? Click here to go to the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) website.
Anche Louw (SAAB Executive Secretary), 13 September 2018.