An account of common broomrape Orobanche minor (Orobanchaceae) in the British Isles


  • Chris Thorogood University of Oxford
  • Fred Rumsey Natural History Museum, London



parasitic plant, host race, taxonomy, host specificity


Common broomrape (Orobanche minor Sm.) is the most widespread and variable species in the British Isles and is the subject of much taxonomic confusion. Poor preservation in herbaria, coupled with the presence of cryptic host-specific races, have contributed to this. Here we review the taxonomic status of infraspecific taxa of O. minor in the British Isles, and provide a revised identification key, informed by morphology, ecology and molecular data. We describe two new varieties of O. minor s.l. that are ecologically distinct and discuss within the broader context of cryptic taxa in the subsection Minores (Beck-Mannagetta) Teryokhin in the British Isles and continental Europe. We suggest that delineating taxa objectively and reliably will be important for informing conservation priorities. Host identity and ecology, besides morphology, are essential considerations when identifying infraspecific taxa in this taxonomically challenging species.