Striga elegans

Botanical name

Striga elegans

Other names

Witchweed; rooiblom (Afrikaans); kopseerblom (Afrikaans)


Orobanchaceae, previously Scrophulariaceae


A small annual herb, a parasitic plant that grows on the roots of a large variety of grass species hosts; it typically grows to about 12 to 15 cm in height

Description of stem

Thin, erect, green stem, sometimes branched to a limited extent

Description of leaves

Linear or lanceolate, opposite or nearly so, about 1 cm in length; erect, course and hairy

Description of flowers

Terminal clusters of scarlet tubular flowers, about 1,5 cm in length, appear during summer to autumn; the flower tube is characteristically bent; the petals arranged with a somewhat smaller two or three-lobed upper section and a larger three lower lower section, the central lower lobe or lip being slightly longer; the calyx is prominently veined

Desciption of seed/fruit

Five-sided capsules; the seeds are fine, brown, dust-like

Description of roots

Attaches itself to the roots of a grass plant that functions as host


A pink flowered variety is known in the Magaliesberg and Suikerbosrand areas

Propagation and cultivation

Can't be done as yet?  Would anybody want to?  In nature the seeds germinate in close proximity to a suitable grass plant's roots (not more than a few mm), for the attachment to the root system to occur




Indigenous populations have been known to attempt warding off evil by applying the powdered plant to the skin; also used as protection against lightning

Ecological rarity


Pests and diseases



Other striga species, like S. asiatica, hermonthica and gesnerioides affect agricultural crops, but this one does not; the 28 striga species are indigenous to Africa and some to Asia


Open grassland

Distribution (SA provinces)

Free State; Gauteng; Mpumalanga; North West; Limpopo


South Africa; Lesotho; Swaziland; Botswana; Mozambique; Zimbabwe; Tanzania; Malawi; Angola; Zambia; Kenya; DRC


Some info from Wikipedia and

Category: Parasites