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Name: sharon
Status: student
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Do all plants have chloroplasts that contain chlorophyll? Are there any that don't and are still classified as plants?

Dear Sharon,

All plants have chloroplasts. Some plants have chloroplasts without chlorophyll. These plants get their energy from sources other than from light. The best examples of these plants are parasitic plants that live on other plants. Dodder (Cuscuta spp.) and broomrape (Orobanche spp.) are common examples. You can find these plants in the woods and fields of most temperate and tropical areas of the world and are easily recognized as plants without green color--usually tannish with or without some red pigmentation. These plants evolved from plants that had chlorophyll and therefore, are considered plants. The classification scheme is based on genetic lineages, not function.

--Jim Tokuhisa
Assistant Professor of Horticulture
Virginia Tech

There are some parasitic and saprophytic plants that do not contain chloroplasts/chlorophyll:

Anthony Brach Ph.D.

Well, there is a plant known trivially as the "Indian Pipe" which is an actual flowering plant with no chlorophyll. Here are two web sites that tell about it:

This site refers to some other non-photosynthetic plants as well:

Here's a site on the noxious weed broomrape:

achlorophyllous plants generally:

Richard Barrans
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Wyoming

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