New Mexico Wildflowers: Broomrape Family

Flowers are organized alphabetically by genus and species. Hover over a photo series to control the images.

Bear Corn (Conopholis Alpina)

Bear corn is a parasite on the roots of oak trees, and has lost its ability to produce chlorophyll. Spikes of yellowish flowers emerge from the ground. As the flowers turn brown and die, they reveal round capsules that contain tiny seeds. One of my pictures shows a few of the seed capsules.


As the name indicates, bears eat the "cobs" of seed capsules. The thousands of tiny seeds survive the trip through the bear's gut and are deposited in a new location as the bear wanders around (and specifically, while answering the famous rhetorical question). Thus, the plant serves as a food for bears, and bears serve as a way for the plant to spread its seeds.