Flowering By Way of Parasitism

December 07, 2012

Parasitism in the desert יחנוק נשלח 1 10 12 (3)

Photographer: Menashe Davidson
Summary Author: Menashe Davidson

The Negev Desert in Israel receives less than 8 inches (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: PENTAX Optio 330GS; Focal Length: 5.8mm; Aperture: f/4.8; Exposure Time: 0.0013 s (1/800); Software: ACD Systems Digital Imaging.