Orobanche uniflora L.
Aphyllon uniflorum (L.) Torr. & A. Gray
Orobanche porphyrantha G. Beck
Orobanche purpurea Jacq.
Orobanche sedii (Suksd.) Fech.
Orobanche terrae-novae Fernald
Orobanche uniflora L. var. minuta (Suksd.) G. Beck
Orobanche uniflora L. ssp. occidentalis (Greene) Abrams ex Ferris
Orobanche uniflora L. var. occidentalis (Greene) Roy L. Taylor & MacBryde
Orobanche uniflora L. var. purpurea (A. Heller) Achey
Orobanche uniflora L. var. sedii (Suksd.) Achey
Orobanche uniflora L. var. terrae-novae (Fernald) Munz
Orobanche uniflora L. var. typica Achey
Thalesia uniflora (L.) Britton
Naked broomrape, one-flowered cancer-root, cancer-root
This North American native is parasitic, stealing its nutrients from nearby roots. ”Broom” may refer to the broomlike shape of the plant, while “rape” (from Latin rapum) refers to lumps that form on the roots. Orobanche translates roughly to “vetch-strangler,” while uniflora means “single-flower.”
Identification: These tiny plants, less than 2" (6 cm) high, are easily overlooked. For one thing, they don’t appear to have leaves. They don’t need them. Instead, they wrap around roots of other plants, taking nutrients directly from them. (There are some “vestigial” leaves, small brown scales along the stem.) Tiny hairy stalks emerge directly from the ground. Each stalk is topped with a single nodding 5-petaled flower, yellowish-white or purple, about 1" (2.5 cm) long.
Orobanche uniflora at Illinois Wildflowers
Orobanche uniflora on CalPhotos
Orobanche uniflora on the Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site
Orobanche uniflora on Missouriplants.com
Orobanche uniflora at the University of Wisconsin's Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium
Orobanche uniflora description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.