Family Convolvulaceae contains several tribes, one of which is a tribe composed of entirely parasitic plants. Tribe Cuscuteae contains only one genus (Cuscuta) with about 100-170 species of yellow, orange, or red (green is rare) parasitic plants. The common name for this group of plants is Dodder.

Cuscuta europaea in flower. Source

Dodder has thin, leafless stems. The leaves have been reduced to scales. These plants have low levels of chlorophyll since most or all of their nutrition comes from parasitizing other plants. After their seeds have germinated, the seedling has 5-10 days to attach to a host plant before its embryonic food reserve runs out. To find a host plant, the seedlings follow chemosensory clues.

After finding a suitable host, the dodder wraps itself around it and inserts haustoria into the vascular system of its host(s). Later, its root dies, and the dodder becomes entirely dependent on the host plant(s) for nutrition.

Diagram of the Cuscuta plant’s (1 & 3) use of haustorium (8) to penetrate the host plant (2). Haustorium grow into the phloem (5) of the host plant to absorb sugars and nutrients (6). Source






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s