Sandfood

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Pholisma is yet another amazing genus of parasitic plants. Endemic to the southwestern United States and Mexico, these peculiar members of the borage family tap into the roots of a variety of plant species. They do not photosynthesize and therefore obtain all the nutrients they need from their hosts. Oddly enough, researchers have found that most of their water needs are met by absorbing dew through the stomata on their highly reduced, scale-like leaves. Throughout their limited range, Pholisma are critically imperiled. Development and agriculture have already eliminated many populations. To add insult to injury, the dunes in which most extant populations are found are owned by the BLM and are open to heavy off-road ATV traffic, which will likely push them to the brink of extinction if nothing is done to limit such recreational use. 

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Photo Credits: USFW, Mojave Wildflowers (http://bit.ly/1umsRvl), and vijay_SRV (http://bit.ly/1AOXvzK)

Further Reading:

http://www.centerforplantconservation.org/collection/CPC_ViewProfile.asp?CPCNum=3407