Cuscuta pentagona Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
If you see a tangled orange-yellow net growing over a bush beside the road, it’s probably an unusual plant called Dodder. Also known as Devil’s hair, strangle weed, or goldthread, dodder is a parasitic climbing vine. Dodder can’t make its own chlorophyll, so it attaches itself to other plants and extracts nutrients from its host via roots that penetrate the “skin” of the host plant. Dodder doesn’t kill the other plant, as it needs them to survive, but it can weaken the host.
Getting rid of this plant is a challenge as each dodder can produce thousand of seeds in a season, and if they don’t find a suitable site to germinate, the seeds can remain viable and dormant in the soil for 20 years or more.
Dodder was used as a medicinal plant by native people as a laxative, a contraceptive, and as a treatment for tuberculosis.
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