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-in-flower
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.

dodder_and_its_use_of_haustoria-svg
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

 

Sources:

https://sussle.org/t/Cuscuta

https://sussle.org/t/Convolvulaceae

http://extension.missouri.edu/p/ipm1021-4

 

 

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