Monday, April 5, 2010

ROCKROSE - Rimonit HaLotem - רימונית ילוטם

I just cannot resist to write about another plant we found yesterday at the Lower Galilean region. Why? Because it is very interesting, special and beautiful.

Its scientific name is CYTINIUS HYPOCISTIS. In Hebrew it is called RIMONIT HA'LOTEM, רימונית הלוטם and it belongs to the Cytinaceae family. 
It is a very small plant, only about 4cm in height, with the flowers at ground level. It is a rootless, stemless and leafless annual parasite, that is only visible in spring, during the flowering period, when it rises from the host tissues. It does not produce chlorophyll at all, relying fully on his host plant which in the Mediterranean area is mostly Cistus, called Lotem,  לוטם in Hebrew.

A 'rimon' is a grenade, and if you look at this plant you can understand why its  Hebrew name is Rimonit HaLotem. The flower buds are a bright hot red and open into an ivory colored bloom. There are distinct female flowers and male flowers growing in the same cluster. The plant depends on insects for seed production, mostly the pollination is carried out by ants.
Those little wonders are not easily visible. They are hiding under the bushes of their host plants, which are very beautiful by themselves, and you have to bend down and look carefully to find them.

The gorgeous host plant Lotem:

All photos taken by my husband Uri.


aurorafedora said...

beautiful photos of beautiful flowers!

glazedOver said...

Astonishing! That a flower could be a parasite. Does the host plant benefit from the relationship too? How fascinating and how beautiful...and how poignant that they need to be searched for. I can imagine the great reward for the seeker when they are found.

TTGDGC said...

Love the Lotem flower, thank you so much for the botanic name,Cytinius hypocistis, will see if available as a plant to grow in Australia.