Hydnora africana Facts
- Firstly, the amazing Hydnora africana represents an achlorophyllous plant endemic to a rather restricted habitat range. This marvel of Nature also remains a quite highly specialized parasitic species.
- It attaches itself exclusively to the Euphorbia plant. Yet the parasitic plant itself grows underground. Only the flower of the plant emerges from beneath the soil.
- The flower also emits a rather strong odor reminiscent of dung. This attracts the natural pollinators of the Hydnora africana.
- Further, these pollinators primarily consist of carrion beetles and dung beetles. Because of its unique shape, they become temporarily trapped within it, allowing pollen to be deposited.
Hydnora africana Physical Description
Most notably, the flower of the Hydnora africana is tubular, with three sides. These start out connected at their tips. Their inner flesh is also a deep orange in color. The outside of the flower ranges from light to dark brown in color.
The texture is a rather strange, thick, scaly one. The three sides also remain connected by thin, white, thread-like structures. The inner layers of the Hydnora africana flower also develop lined with many fine hairs. These also keep the beetles attracted to the flower from escaping too quickly.
Therefore, the longer they remain, the more pollen that attaches to their bodies. This quite naturally increases the chances of pollination when the insects visit other plants, as a result.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Angiosperms
- Class: Magnoliids
- Order: Piperales
- Family: Aristolochiaceae
- Genus: Hydnora
- Species: H. africana
Hydnora africana Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
First of all, the name of the truly astonishing Hydnora africana implies much. As this insinuates, it only inhabits rather specific and sparsely populated regions of southern Africa.
Given its parasitic nature, the plant also only inhabits regions where Euphorbia can be found. This therefore includes dry and semi-dry areas and also certain coastal thickets.
Further, this most commonly includes Little Karoo, Succulent Karoo, Eastern Cape Karoo. However, it also includes the dry coastal thickets between KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.