Greater dodder Cuscuta europaea on dwarf elder Sambucus ebulus, copyright Bogdan.

Belongs within: Convolvulaceae.

Cuscuta, the dodders, is a cosmopolitan genus of parasitic vines. They lack both roots and chlorophyll, and grow as slender, twining stems attached to hosts by haustoria.

Characters (from Stefanović et al. 2003): Plants parasitic, with little or no chlorophyll, attached to hosts by haustoria. Roots absent. Stems twining, slender, pale to bright orange, with no internal phloem. Leaves reduced, scale-like. Flowers actinomorphic, bisexual, with infrastaminal fimbriate scales. Sepals equal, non-accrescent. Styles entire or partially to completely divided. Stigmas elongate, capitate, ovoid. Fruit dehiscent, capsular, 2-locular, 1–4-seeded. Embryo spirally coiled, almost acotyledonous. Pollen 3-colpate or pantocolpate, non-echinate.

Cuscuta Linnaeus 1753 [Cuscutaceae, Cuscuteae, Cuscutoideae] A61
    |--C. americana L. 1753 L95
    |--C. approximata ST98 [incl. C. epithymum H93, C. novae-zelandiae Kirk 1888 (n. n.) C06, A61]
    |    |--C. a. ssp. approximata ST98
    |    |--C. a. ssp. episonchum ST98
    |    `--C. ‘epithymum’ var. trifolii C06
    |--C. australis ST98
    |--C. californica H93
    |    |--C. c. var. californica H93
    |    |--C. c. var. apiculata H93
    |    |--C. c. var. breviflora (see below for synonymy) H93
    |    `--C. c. var. papillosa H93
    |--C. campestris Yuncker 1932 [incl. C. pentagona var. calycosa Engelmann 1843] L95
    |--C. cephalanthi H93
    |--C. chinensis LK14
    |    |--C. c. var. chinensis S72
    |    `--C. c. var. ciliaris S72
    |--C. corymbosa C55
    |--C. denticulata [incl. C. veatchii] H93
    |--C. epilinum Weihe 1824 C06
    |--C. europaea SAO03
    |    |--C. e. var. europaea O88
    |    `--C. e. var. indica O88
    |--C. exaltata MS10
    |--C. globulosa Benth. 1845 L95
    |--C. howelliana H93
    |--C. hyalina S72
    |--C. indecora Choisy 1842 L95
    |    |--C. i. var. indecora [incl. C. jepsonii] H93
    |    `--C. i. var. neuropetala H93
    |--C. japonica SAO03
    |--C. lupuliformis CS77
    |--C. obtusiflora Kunth 1819 L95
    |    |--C. o. var. obtusiflora L95
    |    `--C. o. var. glandulosa Engelm. 1859 [=C. glandulosa (Engelm.) Small 1903] L95
    |--C. palaestina ST98
    |--C. pentagona H93
    |--C. planiflora AGF98
    |--C. racemosa C06
    |    |--C. r. var. racemosa C06
    |    `--C. r. var. chiliana [incl. C. hassiaca Pfeiff. 1843] C06
    |--C. reflexa D07
    |--C. salina H93
    |    |--C. s. var. salina H93
    |    |--C. s. var. major H93
    |    `--C. s. var. papillata H93
    |--C. suaveolens Sér. 1840 A61
    |    |--C. s. var. suaveolens A61
    |    `--C. s. var. densiflora (Hooker) Yuncker 1932 [=C. densiflora Hooker 1854] A61
    |--C. subinclusa H93
    |--C. tasmanica BR65
    |--C. umbellata HBK. 1818 L95
    `--C. victoriana BR65

Cuscuta californica var. breviflora [incl. C. brachycalyx var. apodanthera, C. brachycalyx, C. occidentalis, C. suksdorfii var. subpedicellata, C. suksdorfii] H93

*Type species of generic name indicated


[AGF98] Abd El-Ghani, M. M., & A. G. Fahmy. 1998. Composition of and changes in the spontaneous flora of Feiran Oasis, S Sinai, Egypt, in the last 60 years. Willdenowia 28: 123–134.

[A61] Allan, H. H. 1961. Flora of New Zealand vol. 1. Indigenous Tracheophyta: Psilopsida, Lycopsida, Filicopsida, Gymnospermae, Dicotyledones. R. E. Owen, Government Printer: Wellington (New Zealand).

[BR65] Black, J. M., & E. L. Robertson. 1965. Flora of South Australia. Part IV. Oleaceae–Compositae. W. L. Hawes, Government Printer: Adelaide.

[C55] Candolle, A. de. 1855. Géographie Botanique Raisonée: Ou exposition des faits principaux et des lois concernant la distribution géographique des plantes de l’époque actuelle vol. 2. Librairie de Victor Masson: Paris.

[C06] Cheeseman, T. F. 1906. Manual of the New Zealand Flora. John Mackay, Government Printer: Wellington.

[CS77] Cramp, S., & K. E. L. Simmons (eds) 1977. Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa: The Birds of the Western Palaearctic vol. 1. Ostrich to Ducks. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

[D07] Dash, S. S. 2007. Useful plants of Kabi Sacred Grove, Sikkim. Bulletin of the Botanical Survey of India 49: 79–88.

[H93] Hickman, J. C. (ed.) 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University of California Press: Berkeley (California).

[L95] Liogier, H. A. 1995. Descriptive Flora of Puerto Rico and Adjacent Islands: Spermatophyta-Dicotyledoneae vol. 4. Melastomataceae to Lentibulariaceae. Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico.

[LK14] Lyons, M. N., G. J. Keighery, L. A. Gibson & T. Handasyde. 2014. Flora and vegetation communities of selected islands off the Kimberley coast of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 81: 205–244.

[MS10] Moore, M. J., P. S. Soltis, C. D. Bell, J. G. Burleigh & D. E. Soltis. 2010. Phylogenetic analysis of 83 plastid genes further resolves the early diversification of eudicots. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 107 (10): 4623–4628.

[O88] Ohba, H. 1988. The alpine flora of the Nepal Himalayas: an introductory note. In: Ohba, H., & S. B. Malla (eds) The Himalayan Plants vol. 1. The University Museum, University of Tokyo, Bulletin 31: 19–46.

[ST98] Schimming, T., B. Tofern, P. Mann, A. Richter, K. Jenett-Siems, B. Dräger, N. Asano, M. P. Gupta, M. D. Correa & E. Eich. 1998. Distribution and taxonomic significance of calystegines in the Convolvulaceae. Phytochemistry 49: 1989–1995.

[S72] Singh, N. P. 1972. Cuscuta campestris Yuncker: a new record for western India. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 69 (2): 456.

[SAO03] Stefanović, S., D. F. Austin & R. G. Olmstead. 2003. Classification of Covolvulaceae: a phylogenetic approach. Systematic Botany 28 (4): 791–806.

Last updated: 31 December 2021.

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