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Dodder

Golden dodder

Cuscuta native

Cuscuta tasm flowers

Cuscuta tas plant

Cassytha glabella

Cassytha pubescens

Cassytha melantha

 


family

Convolvulaceae (bindweeds, morning glories)

status

Dodders (Cuscuta species) are listed as noxious in Class 5 throughout NSW, except for native species, which generally parasitise only native plants and are not a threat to agriculture.  Golden dodder (Cuscuta campestris), which is a potentially serious weed of crops, is listed in class 4 in all Southern Tablelands and South East Regions LCAs.

Description

Annual leafless yellow (sometimes brown or reddish) twining plants which attach by suckers to various broadleaf plants, particularly legumes such as lucerne, some crop plants and other weeds such as noogoora burr. Dodder is parasitic on these plants and reduces growth and yields. The yellow colour of golden dodder makes it highly visible, but other species may be less conspicuous. Tiny white flowers occur in dense or open clusters along the stems. The first photo is golden dodder, the 2nd of an unidentified native species and the 3rd and 4th photos are of the native saltmarsh dodder (Cuscuta tasmanica) which has the flowers more spread out along the stems. Final photos are of the unrelated devil's twine (see Look-alikes below).

Dispersal

Fine seed is spread in wind, water, animal dung and soil. Dodder seed can be a contaminant of legume seed or of hay. Cultivation spreads fragments which can regrow.

Look-alikes

The dodder group includes some native and some exotic species, but the natives are unlikely to parasitise crop plants.

The unrelated devil’s twine or dodder laurel (Cassytha species) is a more robust native parasitic plant with brownish or reddish stems that grows over shrubs. Flowers are in small spikes and fruits are berries. It is not a threat to crops or pasture. The smaller species Cassytha glabella has slender reddish or yellowish green stems and small (to 5mm long) reddish fruits. It tends to be found in heath growing over shrubs. The more robust Cassytha pubescens has green or brownish stems 2-3mm wide and slightly ribbed, furry brown fruits to about 10mm long.  Cassytha melantha also has robust stems, but hairless fruits, and can climb into the tops of trees on the tablelands.

control

Prevent the introduction of exotic dodders by buying only certified seed. Do not feed infested hay. Quarantine an infestation from grazing, slashing etc and burn, spraying first if necessary to make it flammable. Do not slash as this will only spread the infestation. Use the site for grasses or grain crops only for 5 years and control broadleaf weeds which are an alternative host. This should exhaust the seed supply in the soil but continued vigilance will be needed.