A picture of a Dodder

Dodder

Cuscuta spp.

Cuscuta europaea bgiu by Bogdan (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

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More images of Dodder

Cuscuta parasite plant
Cuscuta campestris
Cuscuta pentagona flowers 2003-11-08
Cuscuta chinensis 03
Cuscuta europaea (on Urtica dioica)

Dodder Overview

Cuscuta is a genus containing around 171 parasitic, annual species with slender, twining growth habits also known by the name dodder. Many species do not produce much chlorophyll and so are unable to photosynthesise efficiently, this is an adaptation to parasitism that saves them wasting energy on unnecessary processes. Parasitic species derive some or all of their nutrient and water requirements from other living plants. They have modified roots called haustoria which allow the parasitic plant to penetrate their host plant and connect to its conductive tissues. They may tap into the host plants xylem, phloem or both systems in order to extract nutrition and water. This genus contains species that produce thin stems which appear leafless, in fact the leaves have been reduced in size to tiny scales. Foliage is yellow, orange, red or rarely green and their small, 5-petalled, pretty flowers range in colour from white-cream to yellow to pink, flowering time varies across species.