Wild Weeds
A Plant Called Broomrape

      Botanists from the past came up with quite a few names for plants which seem quite strange by contemporary standards, but which seemed rather unremarkable at the time. Broomrape is a rather interesting examples of such a name. However, if we do a little research into the etymology of the name several possible misunderstandings are quickly resolved. In days of yore the word broom was just another word for plant and the word rape referred to a root or a tuber in general and in some cases to turnips more specifically. In fact, the scientific name for turnip is Brassica rapa. It's easy to see that rape and rapa are similar in spelling and likely to have the same origin. At any rate, broomrape plants are parasites which attach themselves to roots of host plants and with all this in mind, it's not hard to see how the plant came to have this name.


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Some plants you eat, some plants you smell
How strange it gets is hard to tell
But worst of all there's no escape
From the plant called broomrape

Horrific and grotesque
What an awful name
The author of that moniker
Belongs in the hall of shame

A lousy, nasty parasite
A curse, a scurge, an awful sight
But worst of all there's no escape
From the plant called broomrape

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