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Before consuming wild plants, contact your doctor to make sure it is safe, and make positive identification in the field using a good source such as Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West also contains a glossary of medical terms as do all of Michael Moore’s books.)


Common Name:  Broomrape, Ghost Plant, Cancer Root, Squaw Root
Latin Name: Conopholis alpina, C. Mexicana, Orobanche ludociana
Family: Orobanchaceae
Range:  First under Conopholis http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=COAL6 Colorado south to Arizona and Texas

 Now under Orobanche
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ORUN  Main data base for Uniflora – All States, except Hawaii
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=OROBA Main database for Broomrape – As above all states except Hawaii
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ORLU (ludoviciana) Virginia- upper MIdwest –  and west excluding California
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ORCA2 (californica) Idaho, Nevada and west of the Great Basin
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ORFA (fasciculata) upper mid-west, Plain States and west to the coast
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ORPI2 (pinorum) Idaho and west coast
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ORBU (tuberosa – bulbosa) California
(first PFAF and wildflower org.  (NPIN))
Common Name: Broom Rape, Louisiana Broomrape (O. ludoviciana )
Latin Name: Orobanche ludoviciana
Appearance and Habitat: Grows on sandy soils on the plains where it is parasitic on the roots of Ambrosia spp and other members of the Compositae.  It is found below 1200 meters in California.  N. America – Illinois to South Dakota, Saskatchewan, Nebraska, Texas, Arizona, and California.  A perennial growing to 1.5 m (5ft).  Found along shady edge but not in deep shade. (1) An annual found in AZ , CO , ID , IL , IN , IA , KS , KY , MN , MO , MT , NE , NV , NM , ND , OH , OK , OR , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , WA , WV , WI , WY.  Bloom color: pink – purple   Louisiana Broomrape (O. ludoviciana), also found in the Midwest and on the plains, has flowers in dense, spike-like clusters. Both of these species are parasitic, especially on members of the aster family (Asteraceae). (2)
Edible Uses: Root – roasted. Stem. Base of young stems roasted (3)
Medicinal Uses: The chewed plant has been used as a dressing on wounds. A poultice of the stems has been used in the treatment of ulcerated sores(4)
Common Name: California Broomrape (O. californica)
Latin Name: Orobanche californica
Appearance and Habitat: Parasitic on Artemisia tridentata growing on open sloples in foothills and valleys below 1500 meters.  Southwestern N. America.  It is a perennial  growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in).
Edible Uses: Underground stems – raw or cooked. A succulent texture, they are very thirst quenching.
Medicinal Uses: A decoction of the plant has been used in the treatment of colds, pneumonia and pulmonary complaints
Common Name: Cancer Root, Clustered Broomrape  (O. fasciculata )
Appearance and Habitat: Sandy soils where it is a parasitic on the roots of Eriogonum and Artemisia.  Found to 3200 meters in California and north to British Columbia.  Western N. America – Indiana to Yukon south to Arizona and California (1) Bloom color is yellow and it is an annual.  Clustered Broomrape (O. fasciculata), also known as Yellow Broomrape, has mostly 5-10 long, slender, 1-flowered stalks rising from a short, trunk-like stem usually 2-6 (5-15 cm) long; it occurs in the midwestern and Plains states.(2)
Edible Uses:The entire plant is edible – raw or cooked. The plant can be boiled in ashes then peeled and eaten like potatoes (3)
Medicinal Uses: The root is pectoral. The chewed root has been used as a dressing on wounds and open sores. An infusion of the leaves is used as a wash on sores. Forms of the plant that are parasitic on sweet sage roots have been used as a treatment of cancer. The dried and powdered plant is inserted in the rectum as a specific treatment for haemorrhoids(4)
Foot Notes: (2)
 Common Name: Coniferous Broomrape (O. pinorum)
Appearance and Habitat: Coniferous woods in Western N. America – Washington to N.W. California.
Edible Uses: The whole plant is edible, raw or cooked
Medicinal Uses: The plant is laxative and sedative
 Common Name: Ground Cone,  Chaparral Broomrape (O. tuberosa .O bulbosa)
Appearance and Habitat: Parasitic on Gaultheria shallon on or near the coast.  Western North America – British Columbia to N. California. (1) Bloom color is yellow or purple, an annual, 8 – 30 cm in height (1 foot top height) (2)
Edible Uses: The potato-like stem bases were occasionally peeled and eaten raw as a snack by some North American Indian tribes (3)
Medicinal Uses: The roots have been used in the treatment of coughs(4)
 Common Name: One Flowered Broomrape, One Flowered Cancer Root ( Orobanche uniflora )
Appearance and Habitat: Open moist or dry places, or in dry woods, from lowland to low elevations where it is a parasitic on the roots of various herbs.  North America -Newfoundland to Ontario, South Carolina to Texas.  It is a perennial  growing to 0.3 m (1ft). (1)  A parasitic plant with mostly 1-3 erect, slender, leafless yellowish-brown stalks rising from a short underground stem, each stalk topped by 1 white to whitish-lavender to purple, fragrant, bilaterally symmetrical flower with a yellow center. Its underground stem is quite short, usually 1-1 1/2 (2.5-4 cm) long. (2)
Edible Uses: The whole plant is edible raw or cooked(3)
Medicinal Uses: The plant is laxative and sedative (4)
 Now for Michael Moore (Conopholis alpina, C. Mexicana, Orobanche ludociana)
Appearance and Habitat: Broomrapes are root parasites lacking chorophyl, which makes for a ghost like appearance.  Their leaves have degenerated to scales and the over all appearance in color is off-white to butterscotch orange.  The flowers vary from white to violet.  They form terminal spikes, which is most of the above ground plant.  The flowers have five lobes, two above that are parallel and three below that are spreading.  Each flower has four stamens.   Orobanche ludociana  looks like a small purple to mauve pinecone.  Look for it after a good rain around Junipers.  It is also common enough and large enough to harvest.  In the west, Conopholis appears as an elongated orange pinecone in the Oak woodlands.  All Broomrapes can be confused with Coral Root, Pine Drops, and Snow Plant, but these are usually parasites of the conifer forest only.  Coral Root  is thin and erect with widely spaced flowers that are orchid like and three lobed.  Pine Drops have bell shaped flowers, and Snow Plant is confined to California and is dark red in color.  Broomrape is generally found between 3,000 and 6,000 feet in the west.  Where ever it is found it is best to take only one plant out of every 4 you find.
Edible Uses: The spring roots of Conopholis have been roasted for food, but taste like a bland old turnip.
Medicinal Uses: The root is the strongest part, but the whole plant can be used.   It is strongly astringent, and there for makes an excellent poultice.  It is used internally as a mild laxative, sedative, and can be of great use for restoring muscular strength after a debilitating illness or a mild stroke.  An average dose is a slightly rounded teaspoon boiled in water and drinking up to two cups a day. 
 Medicinal Plants Of the Mountain West  by Michael Moore, 1st Edition, page 42 , publisher:  Museum of New Mexico Press ; copy right 1979 
 Reproduced, in part, (as well as previous postings under this title) in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.