Dodder Facts

Dodder is a leafless, delicate, yellow colored total stem parasite belonging to the plant family Convolvulaceae. It is seen entangled on shrubs and hedges along the roads and railway tracks. The tiny white flowers appear in bunches. The fruits are pea shaped and the seeds are black in color. Although it can grow out of seeds, when it finds a suitable host plant, it loses its connection with the soil and becomes totally parasitic in nature, living on and absorbing the nutrients from the host plant. Dodder can be recognized even by the smell of the flowers, these possess a penetrating sweet perfume like smell that is particularly strong in the cool evening air. Dodder requires a suitable host species to survive. Hosts include a wide range of broadleaf weeds, lucerne and some vegetables. Many weed species and tree seedlings are also suitable hosts, allowing dodder to build up in areas where weeds are not controlled due to difficult access.

Name Dodder
Scientific Name Cuscuta
Native East Asia, the plant is grown in China.
Common/English Name Devil’s Guts, Dodder, Hellweed, Love Vine, devil’s gut, beggar weed, strangle tare, scald weed, dodder of thyme, greater dodder, and lesser dodder.
Folk Names Strangle tare, scaldweed, beggarweed, lady’s laces, fireweed, wizard’s net, devil’s guts, devil’s hair, devil’s ringlet, goldthread, hailweed, hairweed, hellbine, love vine, pull-down, strangleweed, angel hair, and witch’s hair.
Name in Other Languages Tamil : Verillakothan
English : Dodder Plant
Portuguese: Cipó-de-chumbo
Hindi : Amarabel
Spanish: Fideo
French: Cuscute de champs
Sanscrit : Akasavalli
Maori (Cook Islands): Tia‘ea
Punjabi : Zarbut
Rotuman: Luorovaka
Urdu : Akashbel
Fijian: Navereverelangi
Bengali : Akashbel
Chinese:  Tu si zi.
Malayalam : Moodillathali
Plant Growth Habit Parasitic annual Plant
Growing Climate Grows in a wide range of environmental conditions and on a wide variety of host plants including crops, sown pastures, vegetable, weeds and some tree species.
Stem Bright yellow (golden) to green, often completely without chlorophyll. They are smooth, hairless, thread-like about 1 mm thick and branched, twining tightly on host plants. They attach by small suckers which penetrate the stems and leaves of the host plant.
Leaf Can be leafless or have small, scale like, triangular leaves about 1/16 inch long.
Flower Bell-shaped flowers are cream colored and have 3–5 petals and about 1/8 inch long; and 3-4 mm in diameter. They usually occur in clusters but occasionally are borne singly. Flowers range in color from white to pink to yellow to cream. They are formed in clusters along the stems between spring and autumn.
Fruit Globular capsules 3–4 mm in diameter containing up to 4 seeds.
Seed Seeds are minute and produced in large quantities and contains rough coats and vary in size depending on species. Seeds are brown, yellow or grey and 1–2 mm in diameter. The seeds are slightly pear-shaped and similar in size to clover and lucerne seed.
Varieties/Types
  • Cuscuta approximate
  • Cuscuta californica
  • Cuscuta chinensis Lam
  • Cuscuta denticulata
  • Cuscuta japonica
  • Cuscuta pacifica
  • Cuscuta pentagona
  • Cuscuta salina
  • Cuscuta sandwichiana
  • Cuscuta – Lam.
  • Cuscuta megalocarpa – Rydb.
  • Cuscuta cassytoides
  • Cuscuta campestris
  • Cuscuta europaea
  • Cuscuta reflexa
  • Cuscuta umbellata
  • Cuscuta epithymum
Health Benefits
  • Good for bone and cartilage
  • Effect on fertility
  • Effect on cancer
  • Blood pressure and blood sugar
  • Good for immunity
  • Beneficial for liver
  • Good for eyes
  • other effects