Phelipanche nana vs ramosa vs mutelii

Phelipanche nana from P. ramosa and P. mutelii is surely osften challenging and they have been sometimes misidentified.
In particular, many observations of P. ramosa from North America seem to be more fitting with P. nana.

This is a key that could turn out to be useful for the users:

1) Corolla upper outline not or only slightly gibbous (lower and upper outlines nearly parallel towards corolla gorge). Calyx teeth more or less equal to calyx tube. Flowers usually erecto-patent, rarely spreading.: P. mutelii.

1a) Corolla upper outline distinctly gibbous. Calyx teeth longer than calyx tube or more or less equal to calyx tube. Flowers erecto-patent or spreading: 2.

2) Upper calyx teeth as long as or shorter than calyx tube, triangular. Flowers erecto-patent. Stem often branched. Corolla light blue to whitish. Parasitizing cultivated plants: P. ramosa.

2a) Upper calyx teeth longer than calyx tube, subulate to narrowly triangular. Flowers spreading, rarely some or all erecto-patent.. Stem rarely branched. Corolla blue, rarely light blue or whitish. Parasitizing wild plants: P. nana.


1 - Calyx teeth more or less equal to calyx tube. Flowers usually erecto-patent, rarely spreading. Corolla upper outline distinctly gibbous or not or only slightly gibbous: 2

1' - Calyx teeth longer than calyx tube. Flowers usually spreading, rarely somehow erecto-patent. Corolla upper outline distinctly gibbous: P. nana

2 - Corolla upper outline distinctly gibbous. Plants faintly coloured; often profusely branched. Parasites of cultivated plants: P. ramosa
2' - Corolla upper outline not or only slightly gibbous. Plants usually deeply coloured, usually unbranched or with few stems. Parasites of wild plants. P. mutelii

N.B. in order to observe the "calyx teeth" character, it would be useful to detach the flower from the inflorescence, to remove the bract and to photograph the calyx with a macro lens or under a stereomicroscope. It is also important to see many flowers since there can be some calyces with untypical teeth.


Posted by blue_celery blue_celery, April 17, 2019 19:52


This is a really good key! Thanks so much for this -- and my apologies for putting on so many mis-ID's with these... In many Texas Flora's, only Phelipanche (Orobanche) ramosa is listed...

Posted by sambiology about 3 years ago (Flag)

I only hope it could work.
You do not have to apologize for anything. We all have the right to make mistakes and misidentify and I know that I still have to learn much in Orobanchaceae.

Posted by blue_celery about 3 years ago (Flag)

It would be great to receive a feedback from the users who will try to use the key.

Posted by blue_celery about 3 years ago (Flag)

I think this is great, too. I will definitely try to use this key. I will tag you, @blue_celery , so you can see how successfully a non-botanist can work with the key.

Posted by annikaml about 3 years ago (Flag)

@ annikaml thanks
I would be happy to see if the key works properly
If you need any clarification just ask

Posted by blue_celery about 3 years ago (Flag)

So glad someone posted a Phelipanche observation yesterday. I remember being thoroughly confused by the IDs earlier this year and intending to sit down and figure things out in my mind. Never happened, but I periodically remembered this post with your great info.

Bookmarked it this time for future reference and use in correcting my previous erroneous presumptions.

Posted by connlindajo over 2 years ago (Flag)

@connlindajo it would be great if you could evaluate if the key works fine or not. Also understanding which are the putative and the real hosts could be useful

Posted by blue_celery over 2 years ago (Flag)

Thanks for reminding me about this post. I posted the Phelipanche yesterday, but it was from before this post so just some simple pictures of the plant. This coming year I will be a little more thorough when I observe one.

Posted by annikaml over 2 years ago (Flag)

@bill_barker - comments for southern Africa and Australia please - quite a few of our southern African specimens have been reidentified as this ...

Posted by tonyrebelo over 2 years ago (Flag)

Sorry, blue_celery, I never sat down to look at this but did think about it frequently. Now, it seems there are more observations of the genus on iNat. The ID problem came up today in observation
I added the link to your post. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.
I am sure the more qualified folks responding to the observation will be of great help to you.

Posted by connlindajo over 2 years ago (Flag)

Hi blue, I thank you after Rose, Irish and this card.

Posted by naturalista1989 about 2 years ago (Flag)

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