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Lathraea clandestina (purple toothwort)

A root parasite with explosive seed capsules, purple toothwort is becoming increasingly popular as a decorative garden plant.
Purple toothwort flowers

Lathraea clandestina

Species information

Scientific name: 

Lathraea clandestina L.

Common name: 

purple toothwort

Conservation status: 

Not considered to be threatened.


In moist places, parasitising the roots of a range of woody plants.

Key Uses: 


Known hazards: 

None known, although the alkaline nectar has an unpleasant taste.


Genus: Lathraea

About this species

A root parasite found mainly on poplar (Populus) and willow (Salix), purple toothwort is also recorded as growing on a wide range of other plants in the wild and in cultivation, including Acer, Alnus, Buxus, Carpinus, Corylus, Juglans, Metasequoia, Rhododendron, Taxus and even Gunnera.

Lathraea clandestina is the only member of the broomrape family (Orobanchaceae) that is commonly cultivated as a garden plant. In addition to its decorative nature, being likened by some to purple crocuses, it is easier to cultivate than many related species, which are difficult to establish.


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