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Underground parasite
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Photographer: Unspecified Photographer

Mexico: Underground parasite [Balanophoraceae]

The orange structures covered with a checkerboard pattern in this photo are the flowering and fruiting structures of an underground parasite in the family Balanophoraceae. Most of the year, the plant is entirely underground, where it gets all of its nutrients by stealing them from the roots of other plants. Balanophoraceae are usually only seen when they poke their flowers above ground.

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