DR TORSTEN WITTMANN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR TORSTEN WITTMANN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Flowering sand food plant (Pholisma sonorae). This mushroom-shaped parasitic plant is native to the deserts of south-western USA and Mexico. It is found growing on shifting sand dunes. Its scaly stem was eaten raw or cooked by Native Americans. It contains no chlorophyll and therefore cannot produce its own food. Instead, its stem, which extends 1-2 metres below the ground, is attached to the roots of a nearby host plant. The sand food's flowers are always arranged in a ring on its cap. This unusual plant has become endangered. It is threatened by off-road vehicles and the development of the desert. Photographed in the Algodones wilderness, California, USA.
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