Cuscuta

Dodder

Botanical description: Known by common names such as devil’s guts, witch’s hair, goldthread, and strangle-weed, Cuscuta is clearly spotted in the urban environment as a tangle of golden floss wrapped around other plants. A native non-parasitic plant, dodder possesses low levels of its own chlorophyll, which is the essential component of photosynthesis. It has adapted the ability to feed off other plants for their energy and inset itself into multiple hosts. After a dodder seed germinates, it only has a few days to find an appropriate host before it will die. Once embedded, Cuscuta absorbs essential nutrients from the plant’s tissues. Dodder’s leaves are reduced to minute scales that cling to the stems. Its tiny flowers can form dense clusters that in turn, produce great quantities of seed, remaining viable for a decade. Some species of dodder are host-specific, but most will grow on a variety of plants, including grass, tomatoes and clover. Dodder has seemingly no redeeming characteristics, except that the plant looks other-worldly and almost apocalyptic with its bright coloring and ability to overwhelm other plants. As a rootless, leafless plant, it’s extremely difficult to control and doesn’t respond to herbicides or manual attempts to eradicate it.

Indexed

7

Place of Origin

Europe, Asia and North Africa