Holoparasitic and saprophytic plants
A small number of plants have abandoned photosynthesis and instead gain all their nutrition from other organisms. Those that steal from other plants are called holoparasitic, whereas those that steal from soil fungi are called saprophytic. Such plants are easily recognised by their lack of green pigmentation. Within the British and Irish flora, they can be found in four separate families. Coralroot orchid, Corallorhiza trifida, is widely reported to be fully saprophytic, but is often quite green and obtains a meaningful part of its nutrition from photosynthesis.
Hypopitys monotropa is our only saprophytic member of the Ericaceae.
Cuscuta epithymum is one of our three dodder species, all climbers in the Convolvulaceae.
Orobanche elatior is one of our broomrapes and toothworts in the family Orobanchaceae.
Neottia nidus-avis is one of two saprophytic orchids found in the British Isles.