Ooops! I used the word 'saprophyte' above, lifted from my old edition of Rose (The Widlflower Key, 1981) - but actually I'm incorrect. Mycologist's appear to be a little miffed at botanists for repeatedly getting this wrong. So let's put the record straight. Bird's nest orchid is an achlorophyllous (has no chlorophyll) myco-heterophyte (parasitic on fungi as its main carbon source) (see links below).
Another whacky plant, which I am glad to say grows in the verge down my road (despite the best efforts of the council/utilities companies to eradicate it), is the common broomrape (Orobanche minor). Broomrapes look a bit like orchids but they are not. They lack chlorophyll and are parasites on other plants.
- Interactive version of David Lang's Britain's Orchids. http://www.britainsorchids.fieldguide.co.uk/?PP=species_account&SPID=15&SHC=3&PSD=1
- Leake, JR (2005) Plants parasitic on fungi: unearthing the fungi in myco-heterotrophs and debunking the ‘saprophytic’ plant myth. Mycologist 19 (3), 113-122. Cambridge University Press. Link to abstract only: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?aid=340905
- Wikipedia: Myco-heterotrophy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myco-heterotrophy