DixPix Photographs





Parasitic plants come in a wide variety.  Some, such as dodder, are entirely or holoparasitic, producing no chlorophyll of their own.  Many others, such as most of the Loranthaceae (Mistletoe) family are only partial or hemiparasites which do have green leaves and rely on their host for only part of their needs.  Nevertheless, these tend to kill their hosts in time.  And then there are the root parasites, whose roots tap into those of other plants, an arrangement more common with mushrooms than with flowering flora.


The most commonly observed parasitic plants of the southern Cordillera are of the Tristerix genus, Loranthaceae family.  These tend to be known as Quintrals, and this species, which grows on tall cacti known as 'Quiscos', is the Quintral de Quisco (Tristerix aphyllus). Click to see big picture (331x480 pixels; 97 KB)
This is the fruit of the Quintral de Quisco, which is also known as 'Liga'.  It infects certain cacti in the north-central regions of Chile Click to see big picture (640x406 pixels; 125 KB)
Another type of Quintral on a Quisco-like cactus at 3000 meters altitude in the Cordillera Occidental to southeast of Lima. quintral
Perhaps this is the same species.  In the Chila range of southern Peru, this quintral spreads out to cover large, multi-headed cacti.
Tristerix corymbosus is a familiar Quintral whose range extends into southern Chile. Click to see big picture (357x480 pixels; 57 KB)
Tristerix tetrandus, or Quintral de Boldo (a common bush), is now considered in some quarters to be the same as T. corymbosus.  Here it has pretty well taken over a victim. Click to see big picture (640x281 pixels; 89 KB)
Tristerix verticillatus may be found in the Cordillera of north and central Argentina as well as in much of Chile. Click to see big picture (640x325 pixels; 105 KB)
Tristerix verticillatus is also at home in the alpine zone, here on Volcan Osorno of the Chilean Lake District.
This Quintral from the Uspallata area of Argentina has pointed leaves, but may be T. verticillatus again. Click to see big picture (416x480 pixels; 87 KB)
"Qintrales tend to be called 'Suelda-suelda' in parts of Peru.  This one from the western ranges would be Tristerix pubescens. Click to see big picture (579x480 pixels; 88 KB)
Another suelda-suelda, from altitude in Peru.  This sparse-leaved species is reported to be used to help set broken bones, and is apparently Tristerix longebracteatus. Click to see big picture (620x480 pixels; 113 KB)
A yellow-flowered parasite from southern Chile.  This is known as the Quintral de Coigue (Desmaria mutabilis), where 'Coigue' referes to the Nothofagus dombeyi trees, one of the "Southern Beeches" that dominate the forests through much of Patagonian Chile. Click to see big picture (640x329 pixels; 131 KB)
Ligaria cuneifolia looks a lot like a quintral.  It is sometimes referred to as the Argentine Mistletoe and used in certain celebrations.  It also attacks trees in central Chile, however, and likely elsewhere. ligaria
In south Chile, Southern Beech species (Nothofagus genus) are infected with Misodendrum punctulatum, of the somewhat mysterious Misodendraceae family of hemi-parasites, known locally as Muerdagos.
In the Cisnes Valley of southern Chile, an example of Misodendrum punctulatum goes to seed. Click to see big picture (640x475 pixels; 148 KB)
And farther north, above the Colbun Reservoir, is a giant of the genus, likely Misodendrum linearifolium. Click to see big picture (476x480 pixels; 98 KB)
North of the town of Cochrane in the Patagonia of Chile, there is a Misodendrum linearifolium in full bloom.
Misodendron species are supposed to hang out in the south of Chile, but this appears to be one from near Los Vilos in the north.  Seeds are on left, mico-flowers on the right. (Similar to photos tagged as Valeriana bridgesii by National Botanical Gardens at Viña photostream) misodendron
And what are these orange infestations?  Simply a form of lichen, or something a bit more sinister. Click to see big picture (640x479 pixels; 99 KB)
The dodders are classic holoparasites, enveloping their victims in a shroud of yellow-white filaments.  They are of the Cuscuta genus, and until recently had their own family Cuscutaceae, but now seem to have been dumped into the Convolvulaceae, joining prettier species such as the Morning Glories. dodder
On a closer view, dodders just tend to be a jumble of filaments.  For something which looks so simple, there are a large number of species defined, which I will gladly leave to the experts. Click to see big picture (640x432 pixels; 163 KB)
This Dodder enveloping a pimenton tree in northern Chile, however, appears to be Cuscuta Chilensis,  judging by the leaves and anther color. Click to see big picture (640x429 pixels; 133 KB)
And here are the small, waxy flowers.

Click to see big picture (640x479 pixels; 83 KB)

A European species that is now virtually world-wide; Cuscuta campestris in central Chile, and the most common Dodder in the region.
This is a Mistletoe-type of parasite on trees in northwestern Argentina.  It has strange triple flowers or repoductive organs.
The Quinchamali (Quinchamalium chilense) is a root parasite found through much of the southern Cordillera.  The family is Santalaceae. Click to see big picture (484x480 pixels; 80 KB)
The somewhat larger variety dominating the southern parts of its range, are sometimes referred to as Quinchamalium majus, but others feel it is just Q. chilense again. Click to see big picture (461x480 pixels; 77 KB)
In alpine areas there is a species which tends to have reddish stems instead of flowers. Click to see big picture (605x480 pixels; 130 KB)
While on the seashore near Los Vilos, Chile, a species with succulent leaves. The term Quinchamalium dombeyi has been used for this form, but in truth, there is much variation in the genus and several species names have been proposed.  Click to see big picture (331x480 pixels; 99 KB)
Also from the Santalaceae (and hence considered semi-parasitic) is the Sombra de Toro bush, Jodina rhombifolia, from northern Argentina.  Its most interesting aspect are the odd shaped (rhombic) leaves. sombra toro
Another root parasite is Bellardia (Bellardia trixago) of the Orobanchaceae (Broomrape) family.  This is native to the Mediterranean, but naturalized in a few areas, such has here to west of Talca in Chile. Click to see big picture (352x480 pixels; 77 KB)
Bellardia looks like a classic Figwort, and was indeed classified in that family until recently. Click to see big picture (440x480 pixels; 74 KB)
Paintbrushes are also root parasites and presently sitting in the Broomrape family, at least in some schemes.  From the 4500 m. level in the Ancash Department of Peru, this is likely Castilleja peruviana, confined to that country's western mountains. paintbrush
It may not look much like a paintbrush, but this is Castilleja pumila, sprouting from wet terrain in the mountains of central Peru.
Also from the Orobanchaceae, this lovely plant has been identified as Agalinis (or Gerardia) fiebrigii.  It is eeking out a living high in Argentina's Famatina Range, and may be found from there up into Bolivia. Agalinis
This spectacular hemiparasite is likely Aetanthus dichotomus or A. nodosus of the Loranthaceae.  Although it occurs at almost 3000 meters altitude in the Cordillera del Condor in northern Peru, this is an area of tropical vegetation, and as such has now been treated in the Mesoamerican section of DixPix. Click to see big picture (362x480 pixels; 68 KB)