Stems: one inch long, subterranean or nearly so. Leaves: none. Flowers: solitary, without bracts, corolla with a long curved tube spreading into two lips, five lobed, yellow bearded within. Fruit: capsule elongated, egg-shaped, seeds numerous.
The Orobanches are beautiful root-parasites, whom Nature has rendered destitute of green foliage as a punishment for their thievish ways of imbedding their roots in those of honest plants, and thereby drawing nourishment from their neighbours, instead of manufacturing it for themselves. The One-flowered Cancer-root is stamped as a pirate by its short scaly subterranean stem and brownish scape-like peduncles, on which the solitary violet flowers are borne. Orobanche fasciculata, or Naked Cancer-root, has scaly stems which are thickened and knotty below, and bear on their summits one or more clustered peduncles, and at the end of each of the latter is a solitary, purplish or yellowish flower. The calyx is five-toothed, and the corolla tubular, over an inch long, with five spreading lobes and somewhat bilabiate. This Cancer-root is parasitic on the roots of Artemisia, Eriogonum and other plants growing in sandy soil.