The Orobanchaceae includes both nonphotosynthetic herbs that derive nutrients by parasitizing other plants through their roots, as well as species that combine photosynthesis with parasitism. The stems of the nonphotosynthetic plants are yellow or brown, and their leaves are very small and resemble scales. The stems of the partial parasites are green and leafy (though they darken in drying). The flowers are zygomorphic (bilaterally symmetrical) and frequently have a hood-like upper lip called a galea. They usually have both pollen-bearing and ovule-bearing parts. There are 2-5 sepals that are fused at the base, and 4-5 petals that are also fused at the base; these attach below the ovary (i.e., the ovary is superior). There are 4 stamens. There is 1 style and one stigma. The fruit is a dry capsule containing many seeds. This family formerly included only fully parasitic herbs, it now includes partial parasites formerly placed in the Scrophulariaceae.
This Family’s Genera in New England:
Visit this family in the Dichotomous Key