Flowering By Way of Parasitism
December 07, 2012
Photographer: Menashe Davidson
Summary Author: Menashe Davidson
The Negev Desert in Israel receives less than 8 in (200 mm) of rain annually, most of this coming during the winter season. The center of the Negev is an especially desolate and achromatic place -- even the few streambeds are dry for most of the year. Here bright colors immediately attract the eye. The spikes of the dazzling yellow flowers in this photo are Desert hyacinth (Cistanche tubulosa) from the family Orobanchaceae. Cistanche is lacking in green leaves that contain chlorophyll thus the process of photosynthesis is absent. As a result, Cistannche must exist as a parasite extracting nutrients from the roots of other desert plants. It essentially sucks the water, carbohydrates and minerals it needs from a host plant, often saltbush. Cistanche's blooming period occurs in March and April. Note the twigs and leaves of the host plant at top right. Photo taken on March 20, 2004.
Photo details: Camera Maker: PENTAX Corporation; Camera Model: PENTAX Optio 330GS; Focal Length: 5.8mm; Aperture: f/4.8; Exposure Time: 0.0013 s (1/800); Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Matrix; Flash Fired: No (enforced); Orientation: Normal; Color Space: sRGB; Software: ACD Systems Digital Imaging.