Parasitic Plants:

Click here to submit your own plant photos!

Parasite: A living thing (such as a flea, worm, or fungus) that lives in or on another living thing (host) and gets food and sometimes shelter from the host. Parasites usually cause harm to the host.

Host: A living animal or plant on or in which a parasite lives.

Mutualism: Mutually beneficial association between different kinds of organisms where both partners benefit.

Commensalism: A relationship between two kinds of organisms in which one obtains food or other benefits from the other without damaging or benefiting it.

Parasitism: An intimate association between organisms of two or more kinds; especially: one in which a parasite obtains benefits from a host which it usually injures.

*Definitions From: Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 


Need help identifying

a plant in the park?

Try out our dichotomous key HERE to figure it out! Not finding what you are looking for? Email us a photo and we will try to add the specimen to our dichotomous key. 

ID Characteristics
Funky Facts!
References/More Information 

parasitic plants

Eurasian Milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum):

Eurasian milfoil is considered a noxious weed and is an invasive species. It has long strands of whorled leaves and can create a mat cover of still waters. It mainly grows from broken off shoots (shoot fragments), making it very easy to grow or become established in various locations.

  • Eurasian milfoil has been found on all continents except Australia (although there have been anecdotal sightings there) and Antarctica.

  • The aquatic moth, Acentria ephemerella, eats and damages the milfoil and is used as a biological pest control.

  • “Trailering boats have proven to be a significant vector by which Eurasian Milfoil is able to spread and proliferate across otherwise disconnected bodies of water.”

  • Dense areas of Eurasian milfoil can block sun at depths, which can reduce native photosynthetic species.

Eurasian Water-Milfoil: iNaturalist

*Eurasian milfoil written by Biodiversity Researcher Volunteer: Brianna Raggio.

Snow Plant (Sarcodes sanguinea):

Snow Plant can be found in shady forested areas close to conifer trees. Every part (except the roots) of the Snow Plant are bright red with a fleshy appearance (looks similar to an asparagus shoot) and can be seen flowering from May to July. John Muir has described this plant as “a bright glowing pillar of fire.”

  • A rough translation of Snow Plants scientific name is “bloody flesh-like thing”

  • Snow Plants do not perform photosynthesis like most plants, and must take their nutrients from fungi living on the roots of conifer trees.

  • Snow Plant is edible and is similar to asparagus in taste and preparation, though due to the relatively rare nature of this plant it is never recommended for use.

  • This plant has also been used medicinally. A decoction (boiled plant material) has been used to treat irritated skins and ulcerated sores.

  • Snow Plant was also ground when dried to treat toothaches and general mouth sores.

“Wild Plants of the Sierra Nevada” by Ray S. Vizgirdas and Edna M. Rey-Vizgirdas.

National Forest Foundation: “Why the Snow Plant is One of the Coolest Things You’ll See on National Forests in California” by Hannah Ettema.

Botanical Society of America: Sarcodes sanguinea.


local resources

Check out these organizations to learn more about plants in our area!
  • facebook3
  • twitter 2
  • instagram-icon-circle-vector-logo
  • linkedin-est-accountants
  • youtube_circle-512

© 2014 by Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation