Dr. Alex Twyford comments on Woodland Parasites (Rafflesia)

Press/Media: Expert Comment


Dr. Twyford is interviewed by Countryfile magazine on the topic of parasitic plants the Rafflesia in particular in grass land meadows in the UK.

Period10 Feb 2022

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • TitleVampires in the meadow
    Degree of recognitionNational
    Media name/outletCountryfile Magazine
    Media typePrint
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    DescriptionWoodland Parasites: Dr Alex Twyford from the University of Edinburgh has spent much of his career studying parasitic plants. "It's a fascinating group," he tells me, "including some of the most interesting evolutionary novelties. The tropical plant rafflesia, for example, grows undetected inside a vine, and then bursts out to produce the biggest flower on the planet". Alex explains that rafflesia is an example of a holo-parasite, one of a number of plants that have given up photosynthesising-and green colouration-altogether, and are totally dependent on their host plant. Unlike hemi-parasites, holo-parasites can thrive where light is very limited, under trees and in hedges, for example. Toothwort, Lathraea squamaria, is a good example, feeding from woody plants, particularly elm and hazel. You can find it across the British Isles, except northern Scotland. The rarer purple toothwort, Lathraea clandestina, an introduction from western Europe, can be found under willows or poplars in damp places in England, Wales and southern Scotland.
    Producer/AuthorAmanda Tuke
    PersonsAlex Twyford