7.02.11 - Parasitic flowering plants in forests



Parasitic Flowering Plants in Forests

Special Issue in Botany, Volume 102, Number 3, March 2024

Parasitism has evolved in different forms and multiple times independently among plants. The most diverse type of parasitism is based on an organ called haustorium, which promotes the connection between the parasite and the host. These haustorium parasites are often further classified into hemi- and holoparasites based on their ability to photosynthesize and produce some of their own carbohydrates (Teixeira-Costa and Davis 2021). Among hemiparasites, there are mistletoes and root parasites, such as the sandal wood tree (Santalum album L.). On the other hand, there are a variety of holoparasites, which lack chlorophyll and obtain all their carbohydrates from the host plant, such dodders (Cuscuta spp. L.).

Taken together, these fascinating parasitic plants can influence forest biodiversity, structure, and composition. In some cases, they are considered important pests, while in other cases they are considered high-priority conservation taxa.

IUFRO Working Party 7.02.11. Parasitic Flowering Plants in Forests organized a session during the All-Division 7 Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2022. This special issue presents eight papers of that session.


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Luiza Teixeira-Costa, Belgium


Francisco Fonturbel, Chile

David Watson, Australia

About Unit

Parasitic flowering plants are keystone components of forest ecosystems worldwide. Through their complex life history, these plants often cause both negative and positive impacts on biological communities (including plants, animals, and microorganisms with which they might be directly or only indirectly linked). In the context of global change, alterations in the distribution, ecology, and physiology of parasitic plant species can be expected. Such alterations could lead to profound environmental impacts including increased host tree mortality, loss of breeding and foraging sites for animals, disruption of facilitation interactions, and overall loss of biodiversity.

In this context, this Unit focuses on the biology, ecology, systematics, pathology, and human uses of parasitic flowering plants in forest ecosystems. Our goal is to accelerate the understanding about the role, utilization, and management of parasitic flowering plants in forests with a view to minimizing negative effects and enhancing the valuable ecological services provided by these plants. Forest Biologists, Pathologists, Ecologists, Botanists, and others interested in this field are invited to participate in the Unit's activities by contacting the Working Party Coordinator and/or Deputies via the address information on this page.