EPOD 20th - Flowering By Way of Parasitism

September 12, 2020


We’re celebrating 20 years of Earth Science Picture of the Day during the month of September! Today’s photo features a popular EPOD from the past. Thanks to all of our followers (on the blog, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) for supporting us. Thanks also to all of you who’ve submitted your photos. We’re most appreciative. This EPOD was originally published December 7, 2012.

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.