French name: Lathrée clandestine, La Clandestine.
Whilst out walking at the weekend here in La Corrèze, I was thrilled to find several clumps of Purple Toothwort in a small wood, close to a stream.
Lathraea clandestina is a perennial root parasitic plant which usually uses willows, poplars and alders as its host though it has also been found on a number of other trees and shrubs including maples, yew and rhododendrons. Being parasitic Lathraea clandestina relies on food produced by other plants to survive.
In spring a clump of gorgeous purple, hooded flowers appear just above the soil, often at quite a distance from its actual host. As Purple Toothwort completely lacks chlorophyll the plant does not have any leaves and vanishes from view as soon as it has dispersed its seeds.
In recent years it has become a popular addition to woodland gardens and I can see why as I thought it was beautiful.
It is found in the wild in Central and Western France. Keep an eye out for it now as it won’t be around for many weeks and I’d love to know if you have come across any, so please leave your comments in the box below.