Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Orobanche aegyptiaca
(Egyptian broomrape)



Orobanche aegyptiaca (Egyptian broomrape)


  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Orobanche aegyptiaca
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Egyptian broomrape
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae

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Dry seeds of Orobanche aegyptiaca.
CaptionDry seeds of Orobanche aegyptiaca.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Dry seeds of Orobanche aegyptiaca.
SeedsDry seeds of Orobanche aegyptiaca.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Blue-flowered Orobanche aegyptiaca infesting faba bean (with O.crenata in the background).
TitleFlowering plants
CaptionBlue-flowered Orobanche aegyptiaca infesting faba bean (with O.crenata in the background).
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Blue-flowered Orobanche aegyptiaca infesting faba bean (with O.crenata in the background).
Flowering plantsBlue-flowered Orobanche aegyptiaca infesting faba bean (with O.crenata in the background).©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
O. aegyptiaca on tomato.
TitleOn tomato
CaptionO. aegyptiaca on tomato.
CopyrightD.M. Joel
O. aegyptiaca on tomato.
On tomatoO. aegyptiaca on tomato.D.M. Joel


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Orobanche aegyptiaca Pers. (1806)

Preferred Common Name

  • Egyptian broomrape

Other Scientific Names

  • Kopsia aegyptiaca Caruel (1902)
  • Orobanche parasitica Fischer
  • Phelipaea aegyptiaca Walp. (1844)
  • Phelipaea indica G. Don (1838)
  • Phelipaea pedunculata Walpers (1832)
  • Phelipanche aegyptiaca Pomel (1874)

International Common Names

  • Arabic: halook

Local Common Names

  • Cuba: orobanche
  • Germany: Aegyptische Sommerwurz

EPPO code

  • ORAAE (Orobanche aegyptiaca)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Scrophulariales
  •                         Family: Orobanchaceae
  •                             Genus: Orobanche
  •                                 Species: Orobanche aegyptiaca

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page While most authorities treat Orobanche ramosa and Orobanche aegyptiaca as distinct species, and in most keys there is a clear differentiation between them on the basis of corolla length and hairiness of anthers, in practice many specimens fall on the borderline and are difficult to place with certainty. Keys and descriptions are given by Beck-Mennagetta (1930), Chater and Webb (1972) and Parker and Riches (1993).


Top of page O. aegyptiaca is closely comparable with O. ramosa (qv) but the plant is normally more robust, 20-30(-40) cm high, the flowers normally over 20 mm long and anthers densely hairy. Keys and descriptions are given by Beck-Mennagetta (1930), Chater and Webb (1972) and Parker and Riches (1993).

Chromosome number (2n) = 24.


Top of page The distribution of O. aegytpiaca closely matches that of O. ramosa in Europe and the Middle East but there has been less dispersal to other continents than is the case with O. ramosa.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


AfghanistanWidespreadHolm et al., 1979; Parker and Wilson, 1986
BahrainPresentParker and Wilson, 1986
IndiaPresentHolm et al., 1979
-BiharPresentBeck-Mennagetta, 1930
-HaryanaPresentKataria et al., 2003
-Madhya PradeshPresentRavi Upadhyay, 2004
-RajasthanPresentShukla, 2004
-SikkimPresentBeck-Mennagetta, 1930
-West BengalPresentRae, 2001
IranWidespreadHolm et al., 1979; Parker and Wilson, 1986; Teimoury et al., 2012
IraqPresentHolm et al., 1979; Parker and Wilson, 1986
IsraelPresentHolm et al., 1979; Lati et al., 2013
JordanWidespreadHolm et al., 1979; Parker and Wilson, 1986
KuwaitRestricted distributionParker and Wilson, 1986
LebanonPresentHolm et al., 1979; Parker and Wilson, 1986
NepalPresentAcharya et al., 2002
PakistanPresentHolm et al., 1979; Parker and Wilson, 1986
Saudi ArabiaPresentParker and Wilson, 1986
SyriaPresentBeck-Mennagetta, 1930; Parker and Wilson, 1986
TurkeyPresentChater and Webb, 1972; Holm et al., 1979; Aksoy et al., 2013
TurkmenistanPresentBeck-Mennagetta, 1930
United Arab EmiratesPresentParker and Wilson, 1986


EgyptPresentChater and Webb, 1972; Holm et al., 1979
MauritaniaRestricted distributionParker and Wilson, 1986
MoroccoRestricted distributionParker and Wilson, 1986

Central America and Caribbean

CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012


BulgariaPresentChater and Webb, 1972
GreecePresentVagelas and Gravanis, 2014
HungaryPresentHolm et al., 1979
ItalyPresentHolm et al., 1979
Russian FederationPresentHolm et al., 1979
-Central RussiaPresentChater and Webb, 1972
-Southern RussiaPresentChater and Webb, 1972

Risk of Introduction

Top of page Orobanche species are listed as prohibited, and/or subject to quarantine, in virtually all countries with developed plant quarantine systems.


Top of page Most of the weedy Orobanche species are native to the Middle East and are adapted to soils of generally high pH. They occur to some extent in wild vegetation but the weedy species are mostly associated with the crops that they attack. The habitat of O. aegyptiaca is comparable to that of O. ramosa.

Habitat List

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Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page The host range of O. aegyptiaca is closely similar to that of O. ramosa but O. aegyptiaca may occur more frequently on cucurbit crops than O. ramosa.


Top of page The symptoms produced by O. aegyptiaca are comparable to those of O. ramosa. There are no very distinctive symptoms but there may be some yellowing and necrosis of the foliage, general weakening of the plant and reduced fruit production.

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Leaves / wilting
Leaves / yellowed or dead
Roots / reduced root system
Whole plant / early senescence

Biology and Ecology

Top of page The biology and ecology of O. aegyptiaca is similar to that of O. ramosa.

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Fusarium orobanches Pathogen
Phytomyza orobanchia Herbivore

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page O. aegyptiaca is attacked by the agromyzid fly Phytomyza orobanchia throughout much of its range and a high proportion of plants may be damaged as a result of the larvae reducing seed production and/or mining in the stem, leading to infection by fungi and total collapse. The fly has been used for biological control and was effective in the former Soviet Union for decades. However, this biological control agent gradually became less effective due to the spread of hyperparasites that attack the Phytomyza pupae. See Kroschel and Klein (1999) for a detailed review of this topic.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page The very small seeds may very easily be moved from one field to another by water, wind, animals and man. The seeds remain viable after passing through the alimentary system of animals; therefore manure may be contaminated with viable Orobanche seeds.

Agricultural products of various crops may carry Orobanche seeds if harvested in an infested field.

Agricultural tools should always be cleaned after being used in an infested field to avoid transfer of Orobanche seeds or contaminated soil to non-infested fields.

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes seeds Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx seeds Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Fruits (inc. pods) seeds Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Growing medium accompanying plants seeds Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Roots seeds Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
True seeds (inc. grain) seeds Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope


Top of page O. aegyptiaca is recorded by Holm et al. (1979) as a 'serious' or 'principal' weed in Afghanistan, Arabia, Iran, Jordan and Italy. It is certainly a major problem in many countries of the Middle East and eastern Europe, especially on tomato, tobacco, aubergine and cucurbits. There are reports of 50% yield reduction of watermelon (Panchenko, 1974).


Top of page To check for the contamination of crop seed stocks, place a crop seed sample (100-400 g) into 1 litre of water containing 0.1% surfactant (e.g. Triton X-100). The water surface can be lightly sprayed with anti-foam. Allow to stand for 10 min, then stir well for 1-2 min. Decant the water (keep the seeds for the next step) onto the top sieve, with openings of 500 µm, which is placed on top of a second sieve with openings of 100 µm. Wash the seeds as above two additional times, decanting the water onto the sieve. On the last wash, dump the entire content onto the sieve together with the washing water. Using a shower nozzle, thoroughly wash the seeds on the sieve with an additional 5-8 litres of tap water. The presence of Orobanche seeds can be determined on the surface of the lower sieve using a dissection microscope (Jacobsohn and Marcus, 1988).

Detection and Inspection

Top of page To determine the level of infection of the soil, before crops are planted, soil samples from different parts of the field may be taken, the lighter, organic matter separated, sieved, and the portion between 0.1 and 0.5 mm studied under the dissecting microscope for the presence of the characteristically sculpted seeds. See Pictures for an illustration of typical Orobanche seeds.

After crop establishment, the roots may be carefully retrieved and washed, and inspected for the presence of the typical tubercles, 1-20 mm. Note that the tubercles are easily disconnected from the roots if the root system is pulled out of the soil.

Later in the life of the crop, emerged shoots of O. aegyptiaca will be found, but much damage will by then already have occurred.

Bio-assay of Field Infestation

Flax can sometimes serve as an indicator of field infestation. Flax plants parasitized by Orobanche rapidly develop chlorosis and are considerably stunted. It is therefore used as a reliable tool to pinpoint infected spots in the field (Joel et al., 1990). It can also serve as a tool for infestation diagnosis in pots with soil samples taken from the field, and in experiments where the influence of different treatments on the Orobanche seed bank or on infestation needs to be examined (Joel et al., 1995a).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page Specimens with flowers well over 20 mm long are readily distinguished from O. ramosa, but those with flowers around 20 mm may be difficult to assign.

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Phytosanitary Measures

Most countries prohibit entry of major parasitic weed species, including Orobanche spp.

Phytosanitation is aimed at preventing the spread of viable seeds by minimizing the movement of infested soil by farm machinery and vehicles, preventing grazing on infested plant material, treating manure (e.g. composting) and avoiding the use of hay made of Orobanche-infested plants (Jacobsohn, 1984). One should also avoid the use of Orobanche-infested crop seeds.

Cultural Control

Hand-weeding of emerged stems is too late to prevent crop damage but may be worthwhile where infestations are still light, to prevent or reduce future infestations. The stems should immediately be removed from the field to preclude seed shed after pulling.

Trap crops may be used to promote germination of Orobanche seeds in soil, without themselves supporting parasitism, in order to deplete the seed reserve. Examples of trap crops for O. ramosa include flax, Phaseolus bean, sorghum, maize and cucumber (Parker and Riches, 1993). There are few examples of the fully successful use of this principle, but it should be considered in any integrated control approach.

Soil solarization, based on mulching moist soil with polyethylene sheets for several weeks under solar irradiation, can provide excellent levels of control of Orobanche seeds in the upper soil layers where temperatures are high enough (Jacobsohn et al., 1980), and this has been confirmed in a number of studies involving O. ramosa (see Parker and Riches, 1993).

Kebreab and Murdoch (1999) showed that seeds maintained at high mositure and high temperature lose viability relatively rapidly. This could explain the success that has been occasionally reported from prolonged flooding or water-logging (e.g. Mohamed-Ahmed and Drennan, 1994). A period of at least 6 weeks may be needed.

Host-Plant Resistance

Screening of tobacco and tomato varieties against O. ramosa or O. aegyptiaca have demonstrated some variations in susceptibility (see Parker and Riches, 1993; Qasem and Kaswari, 1995) but there are no reports of successful application of these results.

Biological Control

The fly Phytomyza orobanchia has been used for biological control of Orobanche spp. and was effective in the former Soviet Union for decades, using special rearing and inundative release techniques. However, this became less effective due to the spread of hyperparasites (see Kroschel and Klein, 1999, for a detailed review).

Chemical Control

Alternatives to now banned soil fumigation methods, including metam-sodium and dazomet may provide good control but methods of use are critical and best results are normally achieved with soil coverage by plastic (see Parker and Riches, 1993). Recommended doses of these compounds are usually very high and costly but much lower doses have been reported by Chalakov (1998) to be effective in Bulgaria, perhaps resulting from a germination-stimulatory effect and death by suicidal germination.

The sulfonylurea herbicides chlorsulfuron, rimsulfuron and triasulfuron have shown some selectivity against both O. aegyptiaca and O. ramosa in tomato, but application methods are critical, preferably through drip irrigation (e.g. Kleifeld et al., 1996; Vouzounis and Americanos, 1998; Goldwasser et al., 2001) and no simple recommendations are possible. Glyphosate at low doses post-emergence has likewise shown some selectivity in both tomato and tobacco but the margin of safety is too small for reliability.

The use of transgenic crops engineered with target-site herbicide resistance is one of the most promising solutions for Orobanche infestation in many crops. Using glyphosate on transgenic oilseed rape, and chlorsulfuron and asulam on tobacco, complete control of O. aegyptiaca has been achieved without affecting the crop or its yield (Joel et al., 1995b; Nandula et al., 1999).


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Acharya BD; Khattri GB; Chettri MK; Srivastava SC, 2002. Effect of Brassica campestris var. toria as a catch crop on Orobanche aegyptiaca seed bank. Crop Protection, 21(7):533-537.

Aksoy E; Arslan ZF; Öztürk N, 2013. Phelipanche aegyptiaca (Pers.) Pomel: a new record as a parasitic weed on apricot root in Turkey. African Journal of Agricultural Research, 8(29):4001-4006.

Beck-Mennagetta G, 1930. Orobanchaceae. In: Engler HGA, ed. Das Pflanzenreich, 96(IV-261):1-275.

Chalakov H, 1998. Present situation and prospects for solving the tobacco broomrape problem in Bulgaria. In: Wegmann K, Musselman LJ, Joel DM, eds. Current Problems of Orobanche Research. Proceedings of the Fourth International Workshop on Orobanche, Albena, 1998, 401-403.

Chater AO; Webb DA, 1972. 2. Orobanche. In: Tutin TG, Heywood VH, Burgess NA, Morre DM, Valentine, DH, Walters SM, Webb DM, eds. Flora Europaea 3. Diapensiaceae to Myoporaceae. Cambridge, UK: University Press, 286-293.

Dor E; Aly R; Hershenhorn J, 2014. Pomegranate (Punica granatum) as host of the broomrapes Phelipanche aegyptiaca and Orobanche crenata in Israel. Plant Disease, 98(6):859.

Goldwasser Y; Eisenberg H; Herschenhorn J; Plakhine D; Blumenfeld T; Buxbaum H; Golan S; Kleifeld K, 2001. Control of Orobanche aegyptiaca and O. ramosa in potato. Crop Protection, 20:403-410.

Holm LG; Pancho JV; Herberger JP; Plucknett DL, 1979. A geographical atlas of world weeds. New York, USA: John Wiley and Sons, 391 pp.

Jacobsohn R, 1984. Broomrape avoidance and control: agronomic problems and available methods. In: Borg SJ ter, ed. Proceedings of a Workshop on Biology and Control of Orobanche. Wageningen, Netherlands: LH/VPO, 18-24.

Jacobsohn R; Greenberger A; Katan J; Levi M; Alon H, 1980. Control of Egyptian broomrape (Orobanche pgyptiaca) and other weeds by means of solar heating of the soil by polyethylene mulching. Weed Science, 28(3):312-316

Jacobsohn R; Marcus R, 1988. Quantitative determination of broomrape (Orobanche spp.) seeds in vetch seeds. Weed Research, UK, 28(3):159-162

Joel DM; Kleifeld Y; Losner-Goshen D; Herzlinger G; Gressel J, 1995. Transgenic crops against parasites. Nature (London), 374(6519):220-221

Joel DM; Peled T; Kleifeld Y; Golan S; Graph S; Levanon U, 1990. The use of flax as a catch crop for Orobanche spp. Phytoparasitica, 18:244.

Joel DM; Steffens JC; Matthews DE, 1995. Germination of Weedy Root Parasites. In: Kigel J, Galili G, eds. Seed Development and Germination. New York, USA: Marcel Dekker, Inc., 567-598.

Kataria OP; Chauhan DR; Balyan RS, 2003. Effect of herbicides on weeds and seed yield of tobacco (Nicotiana tobacum L.). Indian Journal of Weed Science, 35(1/2):151-152.

Kebreab E; Murdoch AJ, 1999. Effect of temperature and humidity on the longevity of Orobanche seeds. Weed Research (Oxford), 39(3):199-211; 30 ref.

Kleifeld Y; Goldwasser Y; Herzlinger G; Plakhine D; Golan S; Chilf T, 1996. Selective control of Orobanch aegyptiaca in tomato with sulfonylurea herbicides. In: Moreno MT, Cubero JI, Berner D, Joel DM, Musselman LJ, Parker C, eds. Advances in Parasitic Plant Research. Cordoba, Spain: Junta de Andalucia, 707-715.

Kroschel J; Klein O, 1999. Biological control of Orobanche spp. with Phytomyza orobanchia Kalt., a review. In: Kroschel J, Abderabihi M, Betz H. eds. Advances in Parasitic Weed Control at On-farm Level, Volume II. Wekersheim, Germany: Margraf Verlag, 135-159.

Lati R; Aly R; Eizenberg H; Lande T, 2013. First report of the parasitic plant Phelipanche aegyptiaca infecting kenaf in Israel. Plant Disease, 97(5):695.

Mohamed-Ahmed AG; Drennan DSH, 1994. Factors effecting establishment of Orobanche spp. on legumes. Biology and management of Orobanche. Proceedings of the third international workshop on Orobanche and related Striga research, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 8-12 November 1993 [edited by Pieterse, A.H.; Verkleij, J.A.C.; Borg, S.J. ter] Amsterdam, Netherlands; Royal Tropical Institute, 312-319

Nandula VK; Foy CL; Orcutt DM, 1999. Glyphosate for Orobanche aegyptiaca control in Vicia sativa and Brassica napus. Weed Science, 47(5):486-491; 26 ref.

Oviedo Prieto R; Herrera Oliver P; Caluff MG, et al. , 2012. National list of invasive and potentially invasive plants in the Republic of Cuba - 2011. (Lista nacional de especies de plantas invasoras y potencialmente invasoras en la República de Cuba - 2011). Bissea: Boletín sobre Conservación de Plantas del Jardín Botánico Nacional de Cuba, 6(Special Issue 1):22-96.

Panchenko VP, 1974. [Micro-organisms in the control of Egyptian broomrape parasitising water melons.] Mikologia I Fitopathalogya, 8:122-125 (in Russian).

Parker C; Riches CR, 1993. Parasitic Weeds of the World: Biology and Control. Wallingford, UK: CAB International.

Parker C; Wilson AK, 1986. Parasitic weeds and their control in the Near East. FAO Plant Protection Bulletin, 34(2):83-98

Qasem JR; Kasrawi MA, 1995. Variation of resistance to broomrape (Orobanche ramosa) in tomatoes. Euphytica, 81(1):109-114

Rae SJ, 2001. Family 178. Orobanchaceae. In: Grierson AJC, Long DG, Springate LS, eds. Flora of Bhutan. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Royal Government of Bhutan, 2(3):1330-1334.

Ravi Upadhyay, 2004. Parasitic angiosperms of District Sidhi, Madhya Pradesh. Flora and Fauna (Jhansi), 10(1):13-14.

Shukla AK, 2004. Pilot screening of toria germplasm against broomrape. Journal of Phytological Research, 17(1):121-122.

Teimoury M; Karimmojeni H; Ehtemam MH; Mehri HR, 2012. First report of Orobanche aegyptiaca parasitism on sesame in Iran. Plant Disease, 96(8):1232.

Vagelas I; Gravanis F, 2014. Phelipanche nana (Reut.) Sojak parasitism on lentil (Lens culinaris) and parasitism of P. aegyptiaca on Carduus marianus in Thessalia region, Greece. Archives of Phytopathology and Plant Protection, 47(16):1956-1962.

Links to Websites

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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Distribution Maps

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