Orobanche ramosa L.
Branched broomrape is declared under the Catchment and Land Protection Act (1994) as a State prohibited weed. It is also a declared exotic disease under the Victorian Plant Health and Plant Products Act (1995). Branched broomrape is native to Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. To date, branched broomrape has not been found in Victoria, and its distribution has been restricted to the Murray Bridge area of South Australia. It is not known how introduction occurred.
Branched broomrape is a parasitic weed that extracts nutrients from a range of common broadleaf crop and pasture plants reducing yield.
What are State prohibited weeds?
State prohibited weeds either do not occur in Victoria, or are present and can reasonably be expected to be eradicated. State prohibited weeds are the highest category of noxious weeds under the Catchment and Land Protection Act (1994). The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) is responsible for the eradication of State prohibited weeds. The Victorian Government is committed to preventing the introduction of high-risk weeds into Victoria, to protect our environment, economy and social values.
Why is it a problem?
Branched broomrape poses a serious threat to Victoria's agriculture through lost production and threatening export trade. It is a parasite on a range of broadleaf crops, pasture plants, weeds and some indigenous flora. Vulnerable crops include beans, cabbage, canola, carrot, chickpea, clovers, onion, tomato and potato. Broomrape attaches to the host plant's roots, extracting nutrients and water. Crop losses of 30 to 70 percent may occur. A plant can produce 20,000 seeds a year, which may persist in the soil for up to 12 years.
How to identify branched broomrape
Branched broomrape is an upright, annual fleshy plant, 5-30 cm tall, which does not have any green pigment. It grows underground for about six weeks then emerges in late spring or early summer when it flowers and sets seed within a two week period.
It has one or many irregular stems often branched just above ground level, brown or straw-yellow in colour. Leaves are reduced, with dark brown or purplish scales.
Flowers are numerous and tubular (15 mm long). Petals commonly pale blue to violet, but can tend towards white or yellow. The plant turns brown after flowering and the stems persist after seeding.
What should you do if you find a branched broomrape plant?
If you think you have seen a branched broomrape plant, please contact DEDJTR by telephoning 136 186.
Please do not attempt to control or dispose of this weed yourself.