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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Lamiids
Ordo: Lamiales

Familia: Orobanchaceae
Tribus: Orobancheae
Genus: Cistanche
Species: C. aethiopica – C. afghanica – C. armena – C. calotropidis – C. christisonioides – C. compacta – C. deserticola – C. feddeana – C. fissa – C. flava – C. lanzhouensis – C. laxiflora – C. lutea – C. mauritanica – C. mongolica – C. phelypaea – C. ridgewayana – C. rosea – C. salsa – C. sinensis – C. speciosa – C. stenostachya – C. trivalvis – C. tubulosa – C. violacea
Nothospecies: C. × hybrida

Cistanche Hoffmanns. & Link, Fl. Portug. 1: 318 (1809).

Type species: Not designated. [only taxon mentioned in the protologue: Cistanche lutea (Desf.) Hoffmanns. & Link, Fl. Portug. 1: 319 (1813), nom. illeg. = Cistanche phelypaea]

Primary references

Hoffmannsegg, J.C. & Link, J.H.F. 1809–1820. Flore Portugaise ou description de toutes les plantes qui croissent naturellement en Portugal. Vol. 1. [i–viii], [1]–54, 59–458 p. Berlin: Amelang. Biblioteca Digital Reference page.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Cistanche in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Dec 15. Reference page. 2021. Cistanche. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Dec 15.
International Plant Names Index. 2021. Cistanche. Published online. Accessed: 15 Dec 2021.
Hassler, M. 2021. World Plants. Synonymic Checklist and Distribution of the World Flora. . Cistanche. Accessed: 15 Dec 2021.
Hassler, M. 2021. Cistanche. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2021. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Dec 15. Reference page.

Cistanche is a worldwide genus of holoparasitic desert plants in the family Orobanchaceae. They lack chlorophyll and obtain nutrients and water from the host plants whose roots they parasitize.

Growing in arid climates, cistanche is a parasitic plant that connects to the conductive system of a host, extracting water and nutrients from the roots of the host plant. Cistanche is native to the Taklimakan desert region of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region northwest China where it grows on host desert plants tamarix and haloxylon ammodendron.[1]

Along with other members of the genus, Cistanche deserticola is the primary source of the Chinese herbal medicine cistanche (Chinese: 肉苁蓉, pinyin ròucōngróng). The main sources of cistanche are Cistanche salsa and Cistanche deserticola, although it may also be obtained from Cistanche tubulosa, Cistanche sinensis, and Cistanche ambigua. The drug, known in Chinese as suosuo dayun, is collected in spring before sprouting, by slicing the stems of the plant. Cistanche deserticola has been placed on CITES Appendix 2, a list of endangered species not banned from trade but requiring monitoring. With increased consumption of cistanche, the population of the species has decreased and its area of distribution has shrunk. Aside from over-collection or indiscriminate collection, an important factor in the diminished supply of cistanche is a loss of the host, Haloxylon ammodendron, which is widely used for firewood.

Cistanche Tubulosa and Deserticola: An In Depth Analysis

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