parasite (PAIR-uh-site) noun. organism that lives and feeds on another organism.
‘Tis the season . . . to kiss beneath a parasitic plant? While sprigs of mistletoe adorn doorways around the world, most people probably don’t know that the plant is a parasite. Parasites live and feed on other organisms.
In the case of mistletoe, the plant lives on the branches of trees. Its roots bore into the tree’s bark to draw out water and nutrients. However, mistletoe doesn’t take everything it needs; its leaves do create chlorophyll, which allows it to photosynthesize to make some of its own food.
Indian pipe (right) is an example of a parasite that is wholly dependent on another plant for its food. It doesn’t have any chlorophyll and can’t photosynthesize.
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