Key to parasitic plant genera

Key to Genera of New Zealand Parasitic Plants

Taken with permisison and adapted from Plant pirates - some NZ parasitic plants by Miriam A. Aiken, Tuatara: Volume 6, Issue 3, December 1957.

Question 1

Holoparasites, devoid of chlorophyll or nearly so, brownish root parasites or yellow leafless twining stems.

Go to 2

Hemiparasites, possessing some chlorophyll, twiggy shrubs with green leaves or jointed succulent stems; or green-yellow twining stems. 

Go to 4

Question 2

Parasitic on shoots, plant body a yellow, leafless twining stem. 

Go to Cuscuta (Cuscuta campestris, C. epithymum, C. europaea, C. planiflora, C. suaveolens). 

Parasitic on roots, plant body not twining. 

Go to 3

Question 3

Plant body erect, a purplish-brown succulent aerial stem with sessile flowers; attachment to host subterranean by haustorium. 

Go to Orobanche (Orobanche minor)

Plant body a spherical brown warty subterranean rhizome, giving off brown scale-covered inflorescences which project above ground, attachment region causing modification to host root. 

Go to Dactylanthus (Dactylanthus taylorii)

Question 4

Plant body wiry, filiform, twining, pale green-yellow. 

Go to Cassytha (Cassytha paniculata, C. pubescens)

Plant body bearing green leaves or having succulent stems. 

Go to 5

Question 5

Attachment to host at one point only, main root forming a single haustorium. 

Go to  6

Attachment to host at many points, branching lateral root forming many sucker contacts. 

Go to 7

Question 6

Plant leafless, but having green jointed succulent stems, either flattened or rounded.

Go to Korthalsella (Korthalsella clavata, K. lindsayi, K. salicornioides)

Plant with thin green leaves, a twiggy shrub, flowers usually unisexual.

Go to Tupeia (Tupeia antarctica)

Question 7

Leaves large, 1-1 ½-3 in. long, flowers minute, greenish, ovary 1-celled.

Go to Ileostylus (Ileostylus micranthus)

Leaves usually smaller, 1 ½-3 in. long, flowers brightly coloured, ovary 2 or more celled. 

Go to Peraxilla (Peraxilla tetrapetala, P. colensoi)

This page last updated on 23 Sep 2012