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Heterotrophic Plants

Heterotrophic Plants

Heterotrophic Plants

Page Type: Album

Object Title: Heterotrophic Plants

Image Type(s): Flora


Page By: mrh

Created/Edited: Jan 22, 2010 / Jan 23, 2010

Object ID: 591392

Hits: 48580 

Page Score: 80.49% - 12 Votes 

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Sorta Creepy Vegetables

Plants generally make their own food through the process of photosynthesis. These plants are called autotrophs (self-feeding). However, some species have taken a different route for nourishment. These plants, called heterotrophs (other feeding), lack chlorophyll and cannot make their own food. Such plants can be recognized as lacking any green parts and are often succulent to some degree. The most common groups of plants that do this are some orchids and monotropes, which are a sub-group of the Heath family, Ericaceae. Ericaceae is a well known and diverse family including blueberries, rhododendrons, wintergreen and many others, which are quite different from the monotropes to the degree that some taxonomic treatments separate them out in their own family, Monotropaceae. Most of the monotropic plants in the North America occur in the west.

Based on how they obtain their food, there are two main categories of non-green, non-photosynthetic, heterotrophic plants.

The first group of plants is parasitic on other plants for their food. As parasites, they obtain their nourishment from a host green plant directly through the use of root structures called haustoria. Examples of such parasitic plants include the ground cone, squawroot and all members of the broomrape family, Orobanchaceae.

The second group includes the fungus feeding plants or mycotrophic plants. These plants utilize an intermediary mycorrhizal fungus that attaches to the roots of a green host plant, often a tree. This much larger group of non-green plants includes some orchids and the monotropes. Previously, mycotrophic plants were considered saprophytes or plants that derive their nutrients from decaying organic matter. The relationship between these plants and the soil fungi is now better understood. The plants tap into the fungus and receive water and nutrients that were shared between the fungus and tree. For this reason, this group of plants is often considered epiparasites. Some plants such as some members of the genus Pyrola generally have green leaves, but occasionally are leafless forms and thus heterotrophic.



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Viewing: 1-6 of 6    

mountaingazelleNice Album


Voted 10/10

I’ve seen snow plants in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains. I thought they were really neat looking and found out later that they are parasitic plants!
Posted Jan 22, 2010 9:43 pm

mrhRe: Nice Album


Hasn't voted

I've only seen the plant once and unfortunately it wasn't quite flowering yet. Its the one I have a photo of. Pretty neat plant.
Posted Jan 23, 2010 2:47 pm

Liba KopeckovaVery interesting...

Liba Kopeckova

Voted 10/10

I had no clues about many of these plants...
Posted Jan 22, 2010 11:54 pm

mrhRe: Very interesting...


Hasn't voted

Thanks Liba, I'm glad you liked it.
Posted Jan 23, 2010 2:49 pm

Romuald KosinaVery good..

Romuald Kosina

Voted 10/10

Very good album!!!
Interesting and of high info value!!!
Posted Jan 23, 2010 6:32 am

mrhRe: Very good..


Hasn't voted

Thanks Romek. Coming from a real botanist like you, it means a lot.
Posted Jan 23, 2010 2:49 pm

Viewing: 1-6 of 6