Meet the thieving ‘Vampire Plant’

By  | 

Resembling an ordinary forest bush, this very rare plant does something very crafty to keep its life going. He steals food from the roots of the plants around him. If this is the first time you see something like this, welcome to the new world of plants.

“Langsdorffia”, or “vampire plant” lives in forests and savannas in Central and South America, Madagascar, and Papua New Guinea. Using their tentacle-like structures to extract nutrients from the roots of many different plant species, these parasites owe their lives to their hosts.

This red-yellow color from a chlorophyll deficiency makes them appear as ocean plants rather than forest plants. Although the environment steals the nutrients of the plants, these plants do not harm people.

A lot is known about them. The effect of these plants, which appear to cause the death of other plants in the region, on the surrounding ecosystem has not yet been fully discovered. What is known about them is that they only “vampires” and grew up in dry environments.

From Oxford University’s Botanical Garden Plant Sciences Department, Dr. Chris Thorogood thinks these plants should be in the local plant inventory to get more information.

Thorogood and his colleague Jean Carlos ‘Plants, People, Planet‘ de “vampire plant, other parasitic plants are under-represented in botanical garden collections. It should be investigated and protected further, “he writes.

Like other plant species, the vampire plant secretes nectar for birds and insects. Interestingly, male vampire plants secrete this nectar through their tubers, while female vampire plants do this from under their skirts. (Nectar is a secretion produced by flowers, rich in sugar, that attracts insect and bird-like pollinating animals.)

Although rare, these little Vampire plants are formidable proof of plant diversity. Parasitic plants are still so rare and difficult to study, protecting vampire plants is a subway and part of future crop farming. It is incredibly important to protect the environments in which they live.