Root holoparasite <em>Hydnora africana</em> in full bloom.
Jay F. Bolin Old Dominion University Biological Sciences 110 Mills Godwin Building Norfolk Virginia 23529 USA firstname.lastname@example.org
The bizarre floral appearance of Hydnora africana seems almost extraterrestrial,
but in fact it is finely adapted for pollination in its arid habitat. This
plant, resident of southern Africa only emerges from the soil to flower.
After the fleshy petals open, the flower begins to emit an odor of rotting
meat to attract its pollinators, carrion flies and beetles. The unusual
underground habit and lack of leaves may be explained by its mode of nutrition.
Hydnora africana is a root holoparasite. Thus it has no need for
sunlight to generate sugars, it has no chlorophyll and attains all nutrients
and water from the roots of its shrubby host plant (in the background) Euphorbia