• Navya Jagadish

Langsdorffia: the Vampire Plant

Not much is known about Langsdorffia plants, but from what is known, these plants seem to be very intricate and complex. The flowers are bright and red, yet the rest of the plant is nowhere near as flashy as Langsdorffia plants have no leaves. It just has gray tissue that goes through the soil, which does not look very appealing (2). There is a very gigantic contrast between the flashy sexual reproductive parts of the plant and the simple and basic parts of the rest of the plant.


The reason these plants are called vampire plants are because the underground roots of the Langsdorffia suck all of the nutrition out from the roots of the other plants around it, much like vampires do (2). This is why Langsdorffia are considered parasitic plants. These flowers are known to parasite about 23 different plant species such as trees, lianas and a species of cactus (1). This plant species is mostly found in Central and South America, specifically in Brazil. These flowers bloom during the dry season, during which they show up all over the place. Many flowers have both male and female parts to them, but these Langsdorffia flowers are either all male or all female.


The Langsdorffia is still a plant, so it gets pollinated. A study found that many different insects visit the flowers of the Langsdorffia such as ants, wasps and cockroaches. The Langsdorffia secretes a dilute nectar so it is enough to attract many insects, but those insects may not be the main pollinators of the plant (1). Scientists believe that the main pollinators of Langsdorffia are larger animals such as birds or smaller mammals.


Resources

1. Leung, Tommy. “Langsdorffia Hypogaea.” Langsdorffia Hypogaea, 1 Jan. 1970,

dailyparasite.blogspot.com/2017/05/langsdorffia-hypogaea.html.


2. Milius, Susan. “'Vampire' Parasite Challenges the Definition of a Plant.” Science News for Students, 14 Sept. 2020, www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/parasitic-plant-vampire-plant-definition.

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