Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Orobanche ramosa
(branched broomrape)

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Datasheet

Orobanche ramosa (branched broomrape)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Orobanche ramosa
  • Preferred Common Name
  • branched broomrape
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • O. ramosa does not spread rapidly or aggressively but its introduction in contaminated seed or soil can go undetected, and once introduced it can cause severe damage to important agricultural crops and prove ve...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
O. ramosa on tomato.
TitleFlowering plants
CaptionO. ramosa on tomato.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
O. ramosa on tomato.
Flowering plantsO. ramosa on tomato.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
O. ramosa on potato.
TitleOn potato
CaptionO. ramosa on potato.
CopyrightD.M. Joel
O. ramosa on potato.
On potatoO. ramosa on potato.D.M. Joel

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Orobanche ramosa L. (1753)

Preferred Common Name

  • branched broomrape

Other Scientific Names

  • Kopsia interrupta (Pers.) Dumort. (1822)
  • Kopsia ramosa Dumortiet (1822)
  • Orobanche cannabis Vaucher (1828)
  • Orobanche interrupta Pers. (1807)
  • Orobanche micrantha Wallroth (1822)
  • Phelipanche ramosa (L.) Pomel (1874)
  • Philipaea ramosa C.A. Meyer (1831)

International Common Names

  • English: hemp broomrape
  • Spanish: hierba tora; yerba sosa
  • French: Orobanche rameuse; phelipee rameuse
  • Arabic: halook; halouk
  • Portuguese: erva-toira-ramosa

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: erva-toura
  • Ethiopia: delantuba; yebeg eras; yemeder kitenge
  • Germany: Aestige Sommerwurz; Hanfwuerger
  • Iran: gole jeez
  • Italy: Orobanche della canapa; succiamele della canapa
  • Lebanon: haluj-rihi
  • Netherlands: hennepvreter
  • South Africa: blouduivel; geelpop; vertakte besmraap
  • Turkey: mavi cicekli canavarotu

EPPO code

  • ORARA (Orobanche ramosa)

Summary of Invasiveness

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O. ramosa does not spread rapidly or aggressively but its introduction in contaminated seed or soil can go undetected, and once introduced it can cause severe damage to important agricultural crops and prove very difficult to eradicate.

Taxonomic Tree

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

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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O. ramosa is in the section Tryonichon of the genus, distinguished by the branching habit and the presence of bracteoles in addition to bracts. A number of authorities consider that this section should be included in a separate genus Phelipanche together with sections Gymnocaulis and Myzorrhiza, thus making Phelipanche ramosa the correct binomial for this species (e.g. Teryokhin, 1997; Schneeweiss et al.,2004).

Section Tryonichon also includes the closely related O. aegyptiaca Pers. and O. mutelii F.W. Schultz, with which some confusion is possible. The larger-flowered O. mutelii is sometimes treated as O. ramosa ssp. mutelii (e.g. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2008). Similarly, a very small-flowered, unbranched form may be treated as O. nana (Reuter) Noe ex G. Beck, or as O. ramosa ssp. nana. Keys and descriptions are given by Beck-Mennagetta (1930), Chater and Webb (1972) and Parker and Riches (1993).

Description

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O. ramosa produces leafless flowering stems, 15-20(-30) cm high, usually very branched, bearing alternate scales, less than 1 cm long. The plant is pale, completely lacking any chlorophyll. The base of the stem, below ground, is normally swollen and tuberous. The inflorescence, occupying approximately half the length of the stems carries many acropetally developing flowers, arranged in spikes or racemes, each subtended by a bract 6-10 mm long with two additional bracteoles, attached to the base of the calyx and of similar length. The calyx has 4(-5) lobes, more-or-less deeply divided into two segments, 6-8 mm long. The corolla, 10-20 mm long, is tubular, inflated at the base, with two approximately equal lips, the lower is 3-lobed. The corolla is whitish below and cream, blue or violet distally (occasionally all white). Filaments are inserted in the corolla tube, 3-6 mm above the base. A capsule develops up to 6-10 mm long and may contain several hundred seeds, each about 0.2 x 0.4 mm. A single plant carries ten to several hundred flowers and hence may produce up to a quarter million seeds. This description is from sources including Chater and Webb (1972), and O. ramosa is dealt with in some detail in Holm et al. (1997).

Distribution

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O. ramosa occurs naturally in Mediterranean countries in southern Europe, Africa and the Middle East, extending eastwards to India, Pakistan and China, central Asia and southern Russia but has also been introduced to the USA, Cuba, Central America, Australia, West Africa, East Africa, South Africa and Chile.

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

Asia

AfghanistanPresentNativeParker and Wilson, 1986
ArmeniaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
AzerbaijanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
ChinaPresentParker, 1994
-XinjiangPresentIntroducedWang, 1990
Georgia (Republic of)PresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
IndiaPresentHolm et al., 1979
-HaryanaPresentIntroducedSharma et al., 2007
-RajasthanPresentIntroducedSharma et al., 2007
IranPresentNativeParker and Wilson, 1986
IraqPresentNativeParker and Wilson, 1986
IsraelPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979
JordanWidespreadNativeHolm et al., 1979; Parker and Wilson, 1986
LebanonWidespreadNativeHolm et al., 1979; Parker and Wilson, 1986
NepalWidespreadIntroducedHolm et al., 1979
OmanLocalisedParker and Wilson, 1986
PakistanPresentParker, 1994
QatarLocalisedParker and Wilson, 1986
Saudi ArabiaPresentParker and Wilson, 1986
SyriaPresentNativeParker and Wilson, 1986
TurkeyPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Holm et al., 1979
YemenPresentParker and Wilson, 1986

Africa

AlgeriaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
EgyptWidespreadNativeHolm et al., 1979; Parker and Wilson, 1986
EritreaPresentNativeBeck-Mennagetta, 1930
EthiopiaPresentNativeBeck-Mennagetta, 1930; Stroud and Parker, 1989
KenyaPresentGraham, 1957
LibyaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
MaliPresentIntroducedParker and Riches, 1993
MoroccoPresentNativeParker and Wilson, 1986
NamibiaPresentIntroducedWells et al., 1986
South AfricaPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1979
SudanPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979; Parker and Wilson, 1986
TanzaniaPresentGraham, 1957
TunisiaPresentParker, 1994; Amri et al., 2013
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedter Borg, 1994

North America

Canada
-OntarioPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
MexicoPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1991
USAPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1979; Eplee et al., 1994
-CaliforniaEradicatedIntroducedEplee et al., 1994
-IllinoisLocalisedIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-KentuckyLocalisedIntroducedEplee et al., 1994
-New JerseyPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-New YorkPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
-North CarolinaLocalisedIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-TexasLocalisedIntroducedEplee et al., 1994; USDA-NRCS, 2008
-VirginiaLocalisedIntroducedMusselman and Bolin, 2008

Central America and Caribbean

CubaPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1979; Labrada, 1994

South America

ChilePresentIntroducedKogan, 1994

Europe

AlbaniaPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972
AustriaPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Holm et al., 1979
BelarusPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
BelgiumLocalisedIntroducedChater and Webb, 1972
BulgariaPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Holm et al., 1979
CyprusPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
Czechoslovakia (former)LocalisedIntroducedChater and Webb, 1972
FrancePresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Holm et al., 1979; Gibot-Leclerc et al., 2014
-CorsicaPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972
GermanyLocalisedIntroducedChater and Webb, 1972
GreecePresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Holm et al., 1979
HungaryPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Holm et al., 1979
ItalyPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Holm et al., 1979Sardinia, Sicily
MaltaPresentNativeParker, 1994
MoldovaPresentNativeTimus and Croitoru, 2007; USDA-ARS, 2008
NetherlandsLocalisedIntroducedChater and Webb, 1972
PolandLocalisedIntroducedChater and Webb, 1972; Holm et al., 1979
PortugalPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972
RomaniaPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Holm et al., 1979
Russian Federation
-Central RussiaPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972
-Eastern SiberiaPresentIntroducedChater and Webb, 1972
-Southern RussiaPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972
-Western SiberiaPresentIntroducedChater and Webb, 1972
SlovakiaPresentCagán and Tóth, 2003
SpainPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972
-Balearic IslandsPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972
SwitzerlandPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972
UKLocalisedIntroducedChater and Webb, 1972
UkrainePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
Yugoslavia (former)PresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Holm et al., 1979

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroducedCarter and Cooke, 1994
-South AustraliaPresentIntroducedLazarides et al., 1997; IPPC, 2010
-VictoriaPresentIntroducedLazarides et al., 1997

History of Introduction and Spread

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O. ramosa has been introduced into many countries outside its native range, but there is no readily available information on the exact dates or means by which those introductions occurred.

Risk of Introduction

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The risk of introduction from infested areas is high as a result of contamination of crop seed, soil or packaging materials. The minute seeds are extremely difficult to detect and have considerable longevity. Furthermore, this species can establish and propagate on a wide range of non-crop species, allowing it to build up undetected in natural vegetation before attacking host crops.

Orobanche species are listed as prohibited, and/or subject to quarantine, in virtually all countries with developed plant quarantine systems. See, e.g. USDA-ARS (2008) and USDA-NRCS (2008) for regulatory status in the USA.

Habitat

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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. O. ramosa requires relatively high temperatures for optimum germination and growth, and occurs mainly in irrigated crops grown under summer conditions in tropical and sub-tropical climates.

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production) Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Scrub / shrublands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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O. ramosa has an especially wide host range, occurring on wild plants in the families Amaranthaceae, Chenopodiaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Capparidaceae, Labiatae [Lamiaceae], Linaceae, Malvaceae, Oxalidaceae, Plantaginaceae, Polygonaceae and Rubiaceae, as well as crops in Alliaceae [Liliaceae], Compositae [Asteraceae], Cannabinaceae, Cruciferae [Brassicaceae], Cucurbitaceae, Leguminosae [Fabaceae], Solanaceae, Rosaceae and Umbelliferae [Apiaceae] (Parker and Riches, 1993). See also Qasem and Foy (2007) for a recent study of host range in O. ramosa.

Symptoms

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O. ramosa causes no very distinctive symptoms but may cause some wilting, yellowing and necrosis of the foliage and a general weakening of the plant, with 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

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Genetics

The chromosome number of O. ramosa is 2n = 24. In addition to the genetic variability evident in the range of varieties and/or sub-species noted above, there is also evidence for variation between morphologically similar populations associated with particular hosts. Brault et al.(2007) have demonstrated significant variation in the virulence of parasites collected from rape-seed, tobacco and hemp in France, suggesting the development of host-related pathotypes, confirmed by differences in RAPD analysis. Musselman and Parker (1982) had earlier shown similar variation in the host-preference of forms attacking Solanaceae and lettuce.

Reproductive Biology

When the flowers of O. ramosa open, the mature anthers are already in contact with the stigma and self pollination is apparently the norm (Musselman et al.,1981). Seeds are then produced in very large numbers, many hundreds per capsule, and may remain viable in soil for many years, possibly 10 or more, and certainly for 5 years in many situations.

Phenology and Physiology

O. ramosa
is an obligate parasite, needing to establish a connection to a host root within a few days of germination. The seed is minute (approximately 0.2 x 0.4 mm), from which only the radicle emerges, and this can grow only a few millimetres long. A chemical stimulus is needed to trigger Orobanche germination, normally coming from host roots, therefore, Orobanche normally germinates only when a host root is nearby. However, a moist environment is required for several days, together with suitable temperatures, before the mature seed is responsive to germination stimulants. This preparatory period is known as conditioning or preconditioning. Conditioned seeds remain responsive to germination stimulants for a limited period after which secondary dormancy may be induced. Their ability to respond to germination stimuli also fades gradually when the seeds dry, and they then remain dormant until re-conditioned (Timko et al., 1989; Joel et al., 1995a). Detailed studies of the effects of different temperature and moisture regimes on the germination and viability of O. aegyptiaca have been reported by Kebreab and Murdoch (1999a). These results are likely to be applicable also to O. ramosa. Optimum temperatures for conditioning and germination of O. ramosa are in the region of 18-23°C.

On contact with the host root, a swelling, the haustorium, is formed, and intrusive cells penetrate through the cortex to the vascular bundle to establish connection with the host xylem. The parasite develops into a tubercle on the surface of the root, developing to a diameter of 5-20 mm. Secondary roots may develop on the tubercle and make separate contacts with the host root system. After several weeks, the tubercle develops a flowering shoot which emerges above the soil.
Diaz et al.(2006) describe 6 phenological stages: (a) nodule; (b) nodule with initial crown roots; (c) shoot bud already visible; (d) shoot bud and crown root developed; (e) shoot development; and (f) shoot emerged from the soil surface. In Chile, the aerial stage was reached after 550 degree days and full maturation after 1180 degree days or 132 days after planting.

Orobanche
spp. depend totally on their hosts for all nutrition, and also draw most of their water from the host root. Effects on the host are generally proportional to the biomass of the parasite, such that the mass of the parasite is reflected in a very similar loss in mass of the host crop (e.g. Barker et al., 1996, working with O. aegyptiaca).

For a recent review on the biology of O. ramosa see Joel et al. (2007).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
50 35

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 10 28
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 35
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 0

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration06number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall3001500mm; lower/upper limits

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Fusarium oxysporum Pathogen Seeds/Stems
Phytomyza orobanchia Herbivore Fruits/pods/Stems

Notes on Natural Enemies

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O. ramosa 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 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. Opius occulisus is the most common hyperparasite in Hungary (Horvath, 1987). Recent attempts to exploit Phytomyza for biocontrol of O. ramosa in Chile have been reported by Norambuena et al. (2001).

Several plant pathogens have been reported specifically to attack O. ramosa (Bedi, 1994; Bozoukov and Kouzmanova, 1994), but none have yet been developed fully for biological control.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

The very small seeds may very easily be moved from one field to another by water and wind.

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

Animals could disseminate seeds if browsing infested crops, as seeds remain viable after passing through the alimentary system of animals.

Accidental Introduction

Agricultural tools and machinery can transfer Orobanche seeds or contaminated soil to non-infested fields, thus should always be cleaned after being used in an infested field.

Hay or livestock manure may also be contaminated with viable Orobanche seeds if from or fed from infested areas.

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

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

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Negative

Impact

Top of page The crops most seriously affected by O. ramosa are tomato, aubergine and tobacco, with localized problems on many other crops, especially Brassica spp. Holm et al. (1979) list this species as a 'principal' or 'serious' weed in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Italy, Turkey, Hungary, Nepal and Cuba. Severe problems in tomato have more recently been reported from Cyprus, Sudan and Chile, and from Ethiopia, where the viability of tomato juice factories have been threatened by reduced yields resulting from O. ramosa and O. cernua (Parker, 1988). Losses in yield of tobacco and tomato have been estimated at about 30%, while additional damage is caused in tobacco by effects on quality (Parker and Riches, 1993). In Sudan, losses of 80-100% in tomato and potato yield have been reported (Babiker et al., 1994). Increasing infestation of rapeseed crops is of concern in France (Collin, 1999).

Infestation of tomatoes and aubergine by O. ramosa can be especially serious as it may prove uneconomic to continue growing these crops (and many others) for a very long period. Attempts to resume growing a susceptible crop on infested land within 5-7 years are liable to result in immediate re-infestation (Parker and Riches, 1993).

Economic Impact

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The crops most seriously affected by O. ramosa are tomato, aubergine and tobacco, with localized problems on many other crops, especially Brassica spp. Holm et al. (1979) list this species as a 'principal' or 'serious' weed in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Italy, Turkey, Hungary, Nepal and Cuba. Severe problems in tomato have more recently been reported from Cyprus, Sudan and Chile, and from Ethiopia, where the viability of tomato juice factories have been threatened by reduced yields resulting from O. ramosa and O. cernua (Parker, 1988). Losses in yield of tobacco and tomato have been estimated at about 30%, while additional damage is caused in tobacco by effects on quality (Parker and Riches, 1993). Losses of rapeseed of 58-70% were recorded in Germany by Buschmann et al., 2005). In Ethiopia, yield losses in tomato varied from about 35% in the least susceptible varieties to 75% in the most susceptible (Mariam and Suwanketnikom, 2004). Comparable losses of about 50% in tomato yields have been calculated by Cagáñ and Tóth (2003) in Slovakia. In Sudan, losses of 80-100% in tomato and potato yield have been reported (Babiker et al., 1994). In western France there has been a ‘dramatic’ spread of O. ramosa in rapeseed, tobacco and hemp (Collin, 1999; Brault et al, 2007).

Infestation of tomatoes and aubergine by O. ramosa can be especially serious as it may prove uneconomic to continue growing these crops (and many others) for a very long period. Attempts to resume growing a susceptible crop on infested land within 5-7 years are liable to result in immediate re-infestation (Parker and Riches, 1993).

Apart from the direct damage to crops, there can be further serious economic loss resulting from restrictions on the export of crop produce suspected of being infested or contaminated, as in Australia (Panetta and Lawes, 2007).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Conflict
  • Host damage
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Parasitism (incl. parasitoid)
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult/costly to control

Diagnosis

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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 contents 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, with the help of a dissection microscope (Jacobsohn and Marcus, 1988).

Detection and Inspection

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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 a dissecting microscope for the presence of the characteristically sculpted 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. ramosa 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 using 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

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O. ramosa is distinguished from most other important Orobanche species by the branching habit and the presence of bracteoles. However, there is often confusion with O. aegyptiaca. The latter is typically distinguished by larger flowers, 22-30 mm long and densely hairy connective tissue between anthers, and often the filaments also, while O. ramosa typically has flowers only 15-17 mm long and stamens glabrous or only sparsely hairy. Katzir et al. (1996) have used RAPD techniques to show clear distinction between typical populations of O. aegyptiaca and O. ramosa but intermediates with flowers about 20 mm long and moderately hairy anthers can be difficult to assign and leave some doubts about the full distinctness of these two species.

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.

Prevention

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. Panetta and Lawes (2007) discuss the intensive monitoring that is needed in the course of an eradication programme such as that being implemented in Australia.

Control

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. Unfortunately it is often difficult to see O. ramosa shoots under the canopy of a dense tomato crop.

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; Mauromicale et al.,2005).

Kebreab and Murdoch (1999b) showed that seeds maintained at high moisture 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), but a period of at least 6 weeks may be needed.

High levels of nitrogen have been reported to reduce O. ramosa in tomato and tobacco (Parker and Riches, 1993; Demirkan and Nemli, 1994). In some cases good crop yield increases have been recorded (Abu-Irmaileh, 1985) but in others the crop has been damaged and care is needed to maintain the correct balance between nitrogen and phosphorus. Nitrogen as ammonium is much more effective than as nitrate (e.g. Westwood and Foy, 1999). Haidar and Sidahmed (2006) report the successful use of chicken manure for control of O. ramosa in aubergine and potato in Lebanon.

Host-Plant Resistance

While host-plant resistance has been very important in the control of Orobanche cernua in sunflower, there has been little success in finding resistance to O. ramosa. 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; Mariam and Suwanketnikom, 2004), but there are no reports of the successful application of these results.

Biological control

The fly Phytomyza orobanchia has been used for biological control of Orobanche spp., including O. ramosa, 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. New attempts to exploit P. orobanchia for biocontrol of O. ramosa in Chile are reported by Norambuena et al. (2001).

Several Fusarium spp. and other plant pathogens have been reported specifically to attack O. ramosa (Bedi, 1994; Bozoukov and Kouzmanova, 1994), but none have yet been developed fully for biological control.

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.

Among the few herbicides to have shown adequate selective control of O. ramosa, imazethapyr has been reported effective in potato, but three applications are needed at 2-week intervals (Kleifeld et al., 1998). This was not safe when used on tomato. 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). Simple recommendations are not often possible but Goldwasser et al. (2001)indicate that rimsulfurondoes now have approval for used on commercial crops of potato. 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. In potato, a low dose of rimsulfuron followed by 3 low-dose applications of glyphosate gave best results (Hauidar et al., 2005).

A range of volatile vegetable oils was also effective against O. ramosa in a greenhouse experiment (Solymosi, 1998).

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). Comparable results can be expected against O. ramosa.

For the latest review of control methods for Orobanche spp, including O. ramosa, see Joel et al. (2007).

References

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Organizations

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USA: International Parasitic Plant Society, James H. Westwood, Ph.D. Associate Professor Virginia Tech Department of Plant Pathology, Physiolo, 401 Latham Hall Blacksburg, VA 24061-0390, http://www.parasiticplants.org/default.asp

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10/04/2008 Updated by:

Chris Parker, Consultant, UK

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