The tall hairy broomrape, springs up rapidly and grows quickly; the deep red flowers contrasting with the surrounding green vegetation. It is parasitic on plants of the carrot family (Umbelliferae) and the daisy family (Asteraceae), including the golden crown daisy (Chrysanthemum segetum).
As they have no chlorophyll, they are totally dependent on other plants for nutrients. Broomrape seeds remain dormant in the soil, often for many years, until stimulated to germinate by certain compounds produced by living plant roots. Broomrape seedlings put out a root-like growth, which attaches to the roots of nearby hosts. Once attached to a host, the broomrape robs its host of water and nutrients.
Some species are only able to parasitise a single plant species, such as ivy broomrape Orobanche hederae, which is restricted to parasitising ivy; these species are often named after the plant they parasitise. Others can infect several genera, such as the lesser broomrape O. minor, which lives on clover and other related Fabaceae.
Branched broomrape (Orobanche ramosa), native to central and southwestern Europe but widely naturalised elsewhere, is considered a major threat to crops in some areas. Plants that it parasitizes are tomato, eggplant, potato, cabbage, coleus, bell pepper, sunflower, celery, and beans. In heavily infested areas, branched broomrape can cause total crop failure.
The stems of Orobanche crenata, a species parasitic on the fava bean, are gathered and eaten in the region of Apulia, in southern Italy, where they are given the name of sporchia.
This plant might be poisonous. Invasive in Hungary.