Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Cassytha filiformis



Cassytha filiformis (love-vine)


  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Natural Enemy
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Cassytha filiformis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • love-vine
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • C. filiformis is a parasitic vine with a pan-tropical distribution (GBIF, 2014). It is primarily a plant of coastal areas, where it may become...

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Cassytha filiformis L.

Preferred Common Name

  • love-vine

Other Scientific Names

  • Calodium cochinchinensis Lour.
  • Cassytha aericana Nees
  • Cassytha aphylla Raeusch.
  • Cassytha archboldiana C.K. Allen
  • Cassytha brasiliensis Mart. Ex Nees
  • Cassytha cochinchinensis Lour.
  • Cassytha cuscutiformis F. Muell.
  • Cassytha dissitiflora Meisn.
  • Cassytha guineensis Schumach. & Thonn.
  • Cassytha lifuensis Guillamin
  • Cassytha macrocarpa Guillamin
  • Cassytha novguineesis Kaneh. & Hatus.
  • Cassytha paradoxae Proctor
  • Cassytha senegalensis A. Chev.
  • Cassytha timorensis Gand.
  • Cassytha zeylanica Gaertn.
  • Rumputris fasciculata Raf.
  • Spironema aphylla Raf.
  • Volutella aphylla Forskk.

International Common Names

  • English: devil's gut; dodder laurel; dodder-laurel; false dodder; love vine; lovevine; seashore-dodder; woevine
  • Spanish: bejuco dorado; bejuco fideo; cabellos de angel; fideillo; fideos; tente en el aire
  • French: cassythe d'Amérique; liane ficelle
  • Chinese: wu gen feng

Local Common Names

  • Australia: bush-dodder; dodder laurel; false dodder
  • Bolivia: cabellos de angel; fideillo; fideos; tente en el aire
  • Brazil: cipo-chumbo; cipo-de-chumbo; herva-de-chumbo
  • Cuba: bejuco de fideo; bejuco dorado; bejuco fideo
  • Germany: Flechtkraut, Fadenförmiges
  • Pakistan: amarbel
  • Puerto Rico: cabellos de angel
  • Seychelles: liane sans fin
  • USA/Hawaii: kauna’oa malolo; kauna’oa pehu; kauna’oa uka

EPPO code

  • CSYFI (Cassytha filiformis)

Summary of Invasiveness

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C. filiformis is a parasitic vine with a pan-tropical distribution (GBIF, 2014). It is primarily a plant of coastal areas, where it may become dominant on wild grasses, shrubs and trees, and can affect a range of tree crops. It has not often been regarded as a serious invasive except in Cuba (Padrón Soroa, 2005; Oviedo Prieto et alet al,. 2012), Puerto Rico (Kuijt, 1969) and the Chagos archipelago, in the Indian Ocean, where it has for some decades been regarded as invasive on Diego Garcia island and other islands, seriously reducing beach cabbage Scaevola taccada and increasing the risk of erosion (Chagos Conservation Trust, 2014; Whistler, 1996). Somewhat unusually, these are all areas to which the species is native.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Laurales
  •                         Family: Lauraceae
  •                             Genus: Cassytha
  •                                 Species: Cassytha filiformis

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The genus Cassytha has sometimes been ascribed to its own family Cassythaceae, but is now generally accepted as the sole parasitic genus in the Lauraceae, with about 17 species recognized, most of which are restricted to Australia. C. filiformis, however, is extremely widespread, and apparently native across the Americas, Africa, Asia and the Pacific (GBIF, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014). It has been known by a large number of synonyms but none of these are in current use.


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Adapted from Flora Zambesiaca (2014):
C. filiformis is a perennial dextrorsely-twining (anti-clockwise, like Cuscuta spp.) herb forming masses of stems up to 2 m long, filiform, striate, branched, glabrous to tomentose, green, orange or bright yellow.
Leaves scale-like, 1.5–2 mm long, ovate to lanceolate, apex acute. Inflorescence an axillary spike 1–6 cm long, usually solitary, 3–10-flowered; peduncle 1–3 cm long; bracts and bracteoles c. 0.6 mm long, ovate, ciliate.
Receptacle glabrous. Flowers greenish-white, sessile, 1.5–2 mm long, glabrous; the three outer tepals 0.6–1 mm wide, broadly ovate-orbicular and ciliate, the three inner tepals 1.8–2.4 x 1.5–2 mm, ovate-triangular, obtuse at the apex, glabrous inside and outside, ± fleshy. Stamens 9, arranged in 3 whorls with an innermost or fourth whorl made up of staminodes; filaments of the first and second whorls c. 0.3 mm long, anthers c. 1 x 0.6 mm, dehiscing introrsely; filaments of the third whorl c. 0.2 mm long with 2 globose glands at the base, anthers c. 0.9 x 0.3 mm, dehiscing extrorsely; staminodes c. 0.4 mm long, triangular, glabrous, fleshy. Ovary 0.3 mm long, ovoid; style 0.3 mm long.
Fruit a 1-seeded drupe, c. 6 x 5 mm, globose, surrounded by the glabrous accrescent receptacle, crowned with a persistent perianth; green, maturing black.
The stems vary in thickness, and Werth et al. (1979) distinguished ‘stolons’ 2-3 mm thick from narrower haustorial shoots. The latter twine round the leaves or stems of hosts, forming quite regularly-spaced haustoria. Some self-parasitism also occurs.

Plant Type

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Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated
Vine / climber


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C. filiformis is extremely widespread, being apparently native across the tropics of the Americas, Africa, Asia and the Pacific (GBIF, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014). It is thought to be introduced in the less tropical southern African countries of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland (GBIF, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes


Burkina FasoPresentOriginal citation: Parker and Riches (1993)
Congo, Republic of thePresent
Côte d'IvoirePresent
Equatorial GuineaPresent
Sierra LeonePresentNative
South AfricaPresentIntroduced


British Indian Ocean Territory
-Chagos ArchipelagoPresent, Widespread
-Andhra PradeshPresent
-Jammu and KashmirPresent
-Madhya PradeshPresent
-West BengalPresent
-Irian JayaPresentNative
-Ryukyu IslandsPresentNative
Sri LankaPresentNative


PortugalPresent, Only in captivity/cultivation

North America

Antigua and BarbudaPresentNative
British Virgin IslandsPresentNative
Costa RicaPresentNative
Dominican RepublicPresentNative
Netherlands AntillesPresentNative
Puerto RicoPresentNative
Saint LuciaPresentNative
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentNative
Turks and Caicos IslandsPresentNative
U.S. Virgin IslandsPresentNative
United StatesPresentNative
-HawaiiPresentNativeKauai, Niihau, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, Hawaii


-New South WalesPresentNative
-Northern TerritoryPresentNative
-Western AustraliaPresentNative
Christmas IslandPresentNative
Cook IslandsPresentNative
Federated States of MicronesiaPresentNative
French PolynesiaPresentNative
Marshall IslandsPresentNative
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentNative
Papua New GuineaPresentNative
Solomon IslandsPresentNative

South America

BrazilPresent, WidespreadNative
-Espirito SantoPresentNative
-Mato GrossoPresentNative
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentNative
-Minas GeraisPresentNative
-Rio de JaneiroPresentNative
French GuianaPresentNative

History of Introduction and Spread

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The earliest records of C. filiformis on GBIF (2014) are 1839 for South Africa, 1939 for Namibia, 1952 for Botswana and 1959 for Swaziland, but it is not certain if this represents natural or human-assisted spread.

Risk of Introduction

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The risk of further spread is relatively low, but could occur as a result of interest in the therapeutic uses of the plant (see Uses), or accidentally with the importation of infected ornamental host plants, as has been occuring in the USA on protea plants (USDA, 2007). The risk is probably greatest for those Pacific islands on which C. filiformis is not currently found.


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C. filiformis occurs most commonly on coastal vegetation, usually on sandy dunes, but also on the margins of evergreen, gully and riverine forest, deciduous plateau and coastal woodlands, montane grasslands and swamp margins, and in the vegetation of sandy beaches of lakes (Nelson, 2008). Inland, it may occur on a wide range of hosts, including quite large trees (but not tall forest) as well as grasses. It does not occur in deep shade. Flora of China (2014) records it in thickets or sparse forests on mountain slopes; from sea level to 1600 m altitude.

Habitat List

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Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Secondary/tolerated habitat
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalWetlands Secondary/tolerated habitat
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalScrub / shrublands Secondary/tolerated habitat
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalArid regions Secondary/tolerated habitat
LittoralCoastal areas Principal habitat
LittoralCoastal dunes Principal habitat
LittoralMangroves Principal habitat

Hosts/Species Affected

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Unlike some of the less widely distributed species of Cassytha, C. filiformis has a very wide host range on grasses, broad-leaved angiosperms, ferns and gymnosperms (Irum Mukhtar et al., 2010; Kokubugata and Yokota, 2012).

It can be damaging to crop plants – usually tree crops such as mango, citrus, nutmeg, avocado, sandalwood, neem, camphor trees (Cinnamomum camphora) and coconut – but also ornamental trees. It can also become dominant in natural vegetation, with deleterious effects on wild species, such as Scaevola taccada and Lumnitzera racemosa on islands in the Chagos Archipelago (Indian Ocean), Jacquemontia reclinata in Florida, USA, and Euphorbia skottsbergii var. kalaeloana, Achyranthes splendens and Scaevola sericea in Hawaii (Nelson, 2008). Gymnosperms damaged include Pinus massoniana in China (Zhang, 1988).

Werth et al. (1979), during a short survey on Andros Island in the Bahamas, identified 81 host species in 45 plant families, including ferns, gymnosperm and grasses. Most of the favoured hosts were low, much-branched woody shrubs such as Trema lamarckianum, Lantana involucrata, Baccharis dioica, Pithecllobium guadalupense, Eupatorium villosum and particularly Acacia choriophylla.

Recorded host plants in southern and southeastern Africa include species of Baphia, Bauhinia, Crotalaria, Dalbergia, Indigofera, Kotschya, Tephrosia, Triumfetta, Ozoroa, Philippia, Xylopia, Euphorbia milii, Justicia, Phragmites, Miscanthidium and Chloris, from 0–1400 m altitude (Flora Zambesiaca, 2014). Favoured hosts in Pakistan are recorded as Bougainvillea spectabilis, followed by Nerium oleander and Ziziphus mauritiana (Irum Mukhtar et al., 2010).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContextReferences
Azadirachta indica (neem tree)MeliaceaeOther
    Cinnamomum camphora (camphor laurel)LauraceaeOther
        Cocos nucifera (coconut)ArecaceaeOther
          Mangifera indica (mango)AnacardiaceaeOther
            Myristica fragrans (nutmeg)MyristicaceaeOther
              Persea americana (avocado)LauraceaeOther
                Santalum album (Indian sandalwood)SantalaceaeOther
                  Scaevola taccada (beach naupaka)GoodeniaceaeUnknown

                    Growth Stages

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                    Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Post-harvest, Vegetative growing stage

                    Biology and Ecology

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                    The chromosome number is usually reported as 2n = 48, but Missouri Botanical Garden (2014) also quoted one record of 2n = 24.

                    Reproductive Biology

                    Regarding pollination, Weber (1981) did not observe any particular insects on the flowers of C. filiformis as possible pollinators, and could not find any information on pollination in the literature. ‘The presence of the glands in the flower, and the quite long flowering period of several weeks may suggest insect pollination or wind pollination; on the other hand the introrse stamens and the small flowers may achieve self pollination’ (Weber, 1981). Werth et al. (1979) observed thrips (Thyasanoptera) in the flowers but could not confirm that they were providing pollination.

                    C. filiformis is propagated vegetatively and by seed. The fruits have a physical dormancy, and germinate only after scarification or softening by microbial action (Mahadevan and Jayasuriya, 2013a). The fruits are dispersed by sea currents and by birds (Prota4U, 2014).

                    During germination, the cotyledons remain fully intact inside the seed coat. Radicles are tuberous, swollen and whitish-green. The plumule is filiform, cord-like, light green and with minute alternate leaves (Augustine, 2004).

                    Following germination, the primary root fails to develop but several small adventitious roots may provide anchorage for a short period (Mahadevan and Jayasuriya, 2013b). Seedlings can then survive for up to 8 weeks without a host, growing to a length of 30 cm or more, presumably relying mainly on the seed reserves (Nelson, 2008).

                    Physiology and Phenology

                    C. filiformis has substantial levels of chlorophyll (though it is sometimes masked by orange pigments) and some ability to photosynthesise. De la Harpe et al. (1980) found that in the South African species C. ciliolata, there was a well-developed thylakoid system but rates of photosynthesis were low. No comparable information has been seen for C. filiformis.

                    Some sources suggest that there is phloem connection between C. filiformis and its host. (e.g. Abubacker et al., 2005), but Nelson (2008) indicated that in phloem tissues the cells of the plant host and the pathogen are separated by their respective cell membranes, although nutrients and fluid pass through these membranes. After the haustorium has directly penetrated the cell wall, ‘the haustorium does not penetrate or break through the plasmalemma membrane, but rather invaginates it’ (Nelson, 2008).


                    C. filiormis is recognised as a perennial but no information was found on its life expectancy. It has been noted, however, that the seeds may persist for some years in a dormant state (Mahadevan and Jayasuriya, 2013a).


                    C. filiformis is dependent on the host for water and minerals, but there is little information on the degree to which the parasite is dependent on the host’s photosynthates.


                    C. filiformis is associated with a very wide range of host plants in a wide range of angiosperm and gymnosperm plant families. Werth et al. (1979), during a short survey on Andros Island in the Bahamas, identified 81 host species in 45 plant families, including ferns, gymnosperm and grasses. It is not known what encourages C. filiformis’ tendency to favour coastal vegetation. It can also occur well inland on non-saline soils.

                    Environmental Requirements

                    C. filiformis is a tropical species requiring warm temperatures. It is also sensitive to shading,  in spite of having its own photosynthesis and obtaining additional nutrition from its hosts. It is not known to be affected by soil type or pH. Its greater numbers in coastal areas suggest that it may be favoured by hosts growing on saline soils, but there has been no confirmation of this.


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                    Af - Tropical rainforest climate Tolerated > 60mm precipitation per month
                    Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
                    As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
                    Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
                    BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
                    Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers

                    Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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                    Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
                    30 30

                    Rainfall Regime

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                    Soil Tolerances

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                    Soil texture

                    • heavy
                    • light
                    • medium

                    Special soil tolerances

                    • saline

                    Notes on Natural Enemies

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                    There are few records of natural enemies on C. filiformis, perhaps helping to explain its invasive nature, even within its native range. There are records of black spots of the fungus Bitancourtia cassythae on C. filiformis in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania (PROTA4U, 2014). C. filiformis is a host for citrus mosaic virus and citrus yellow corky vein viroid, and has been found to transmit the virus from one Citrus species to another. A mycoplasma-like organism causing root wilt in coconut, and normally transferred by a lace bug (Stephanitis typicus), may also be transmitted through C. filiformis to the periwinkle Catharanthus roseus. The larvae of the lepidopteran Zetona delospila from Australia feed specifically on Cassytha (PROTA4U, 2014). C. filiformis is also a food plant for the larval stages of the small dusty blue butterfly (Candalides erinus erinus) in Australia (Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants, 2014).

                    Means of Movement and Dispersal

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                    Natural Dispersal

                    Non-biotic dispersal may occur locally by strong winds or water movement. C. filiformis may presumably be moved on machinery but there is no information on its ability to regenerate from stem fragments. C. filiformis is also believed to be distributed more widely via ocean currents. The fruits sink in fresh water but float in salt water (Werth et al.,1979). It also spreads from tree to tree by vegetative growth.

                    Vector Transmission (Biotic)

                    C. filiformis is distributed in the gut of birds and by the rufus hare wallaby, Lagorchestes hirsutus (Nelson, 2008). Balasubramanian (1990) noted that seeds were taken by white-browed bulbul (Pycnonotus luteolus).

                    Accidental Introduction

                    USDA (2007)recorded an accidental introduction of C. filiformis into USA on ornamental Protea plants.

                    Intentional Introduction

                    Human-mediated introduction is the most common way for C. filiformis to spread. It is quite likely to be introduced deliberately as a medicinal plant, as a cultural accessory, or simply as a curiosity (see Uses).


                    Pathway Causes

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                    CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
                    Botanical gardens and zoosPotential movement as curiosity Yes Yes
                    Escape from confinement or garden escape Yes
                    Forage Yes Yes
                    Garden waste disposal Yes
                    Horticulture Yes Yes

                    Pathway Vectors

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                    VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
                    Floating vegetation and debrisFruits float in sea water Yes Werth et al. (1979)
                    Plants or parts of plants Yes Yes
                    Water Yes Yes

                    Plant Trade

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                    Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
                    Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches

                    Impact Summary

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                    Cultural/amenity Negative
                    Economic/livelihood Negative
                    Environment (generally) Negative
                    Human health Negative

                    Economic Impact

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                    As a parasite, C. filiformis can do considerable damage to host plants by extracting plant sap from the host and by covering the host with a dense mat of stems. It is believed to reduce photosynthesis in its hosts (The Noni Website, 2006), but it is not clear whether this is a physiological effect, or arises from the smothering effect of the dense mass of stems and effective shading of the host.

                    C. filiformis can also cause physical damage by the sheer weight of its stems, which can break branches. Schmutterer (1998) recorded the death of neem trees infested by C. filiformis in Kenya, but this is not common. Other tree crops reported to be damaged include mango, citrus, nutmeg, avocado, sandalwood, camphor trees (Cinnamomum camphora) and coconut. C. filiformus is also regarded as a threat to lowland reforestation projects (Nelson, 2008).

                    C. filiformis is reported to be capable of transmitting phytoplasmas to or from coconut and areca, causing areca yellow leaf disease (ALD) (Nelson, 2008)

                    C. filiformis is a host for citrus mosaic virus and citrus yellow corky vein viroid, and has been found to transmit the virus from one Citrus species to another (PROTA4U, 2014). A mycoplasma-like organism causing root wilt in coconut, and normally transferred by a lace bug (Stephanitis typicus), may also be transmitted through C. filiformis (PROTA4U, 2014).

                    Environmental Impact

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                    Heavy infestations of C. filiformis can eventually smother and kill plants, including endangered plants, and their coppice regrowth in coastal habitats. Host plants succumb to heavy infestation due to a weakened condition that reduces resistance to other pests (Nelson, 2008).

                    Threatened Species

                    In Hawaii, C. filiformis has been observed on Euphorbia skottsbergii var. kalaeloana, which appears on the USA federal endangered plants list (Nelson, 2008). The Hawaiian endemic pigweed  Achyranthes splendens is under pressing threat from the destruction of remaining habitat for development and competition from invasive plants, especially C. filiformis (Nelson, 2008).


                    C. filiformis is also threatening the mangrove species Lumnitzera racemosa on Eagle Island, and reducing Scaevola taccada cover on Diego Garcia atoll, both in the Chagos archipelago (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, 2014). The threatened species Jacquemontia reclinata in Florida, USA, is also affected by C. filiformis (Nelson, 2008).

                    Impact on Habitats

                    C. filiformis may impact habitats by smothering certain plant species, thereby altering ground cover. On the Chagos islands, damage to the shore-line plant Scaevola taccada may increase coastal erosion (Whistler, 1996; Chagos Conservation Trust, 2014).

                    Threatened Species

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                    Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
                    Jacquemontia reclinata (beach clustervine)No DetailsChagos ArchipelagoCompetition - smothering; Parasitism (incl. parasitoid)Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (2014)
                    Achyranthes splendens var. rotundata (round-leaved chaff flower)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiNatureServe (2010)

                    Social Impact

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                    C. filiformis contains small quantities of a poisonous alkaloid, large doses of which are fatal (Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants, 2014).

                    Babayi et al. (2007) prepared a herbal extract from C. filifromis with an LD 50 toxicity to rats of 500 mg/kg.

                    C. filiformis is considered a significant roadside eyesore in some locations, such as in Hawaii (Nelson, 2008).

                    Risk and Impact Factors

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                    • Invasive in its native range
                    • Has a broad native range
                    • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
                    • Reproduces asexually
                    Impact outcomes
                    • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
                    • Host damage
                    • Modification of successional patterns
                    • Negatively impacts agriculture
                    • Negatively impacts forestry
                    • Negatively impacts human health
                    • Reduced native biodiversity
                    • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
                    • Threat to/ loss of native species
                    Impact mechanisms
                    • Competition - smothering
                    • Pest and disease transmission
                    • Parasitism (incl. parasitoid)
                    • Pathogenic
                    Likelihood of entry/control
                    • Difficult/costly to control


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                    Social Benefit

                    C. filiformis has a wide range of medicinal and other uses.

                    GLOBinMED (2014) catalogued uses in dermatology, gastrointestinal problems, obstetrics and gynaecology. These uses are recorded extremely widely, from the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. In Taiwan, C. filiformis is reported as a beneficial medicine against gonorrhoea, kidney ailments and as a diuretic (Mythili et al., 2011). In Africa it is used to treat cancer, African trypanosomiasis and other diseases (Hoet et al., 2004). Antioxidant activity has been reported by Nwaehujor et al. (2013), and hepatoprotective activity by Bincy et al. (2013). C. filiformis also has a reputation as an abortifacient (Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants, 2014).

                    In China, the whole plant is used by local people as a diuretic and as a paste for paper-making (Flora of China, 2014). Nelson (2008) recorded the following miscellaneous uses of C. filiformis in the Pacific region: for sorcery (Kiribati); for fishing magic (Ulithi); for fastening roofing (Papua New Guinea;) as a food for children (Micronesia); as a pre-masticated food for infants (Ulithi); the fruit as ammunition for popguns (Puluwat); the sap as shampoo and hair conditioner (Tokelau); to line earthen ovens (Truk); as casual head garlands for picnics and other light-hearted occasions (Hawaii and elsewhere); for jellyfish stings (Fiji) and for scenting coconut oil. ‘Probably because of the vigorous hair-like growth, the plant has been used in India and South-East Asia in hair tonics’ (Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants, 2010).

                    Medicinal uses are thought to be linked to a range of biologically active substances. For instance, ocoteine, a compound isolated from C. filiformis, was found to be an alpha 1-adrenoceptor blocking agent in the rat thoracic aorta. This type of chemistry has potential applications for inhibiting certain carcinomas such as prostate cancer. Octoeine and a number of other compounds in C. filiformis have antiplatelet aggregation activity (Nelson, 2008).

                    Studies on the aporphines in C. filiformis indicated that these compounds effectively bind to DNA and behave as typical intercalating agents. These interactions with DNA and observed cytotoxic activity may explain, at least in part, the effects observed on cancer cells and trypanosomes (Stévigny et al., 2002; Hoet et al., 2004).

                    Extracts of C. filiformis were shown to have antibacterial action against Staphylococcus aureus,Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, antifungal activity against Candida albicans (Adonu et al., 2013) and antibacterial activity against Klebsiella pneumoniae (Mythili, 2011).

                    Environmental Services

                    In Florida, USA, suppression of the invasive tree Schinus terebinthifolius by the potential biocontrol lepidopteran Episimus unguiculus can be enhanced by parasitism of the tree by the native C. filiformis (Manrique et alet al,. 2009).

                    C. filiformis has also been suggested to have biological control potential of Mikania micrantha in Malaysia (Chiu et al., 2002).

                    Uses List

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                    • Sociocultural value

                    Human food and beverage

                    • Emergency (famine) food

                    Medicinal, pharmaceutical

                    • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
                    • Traditional/folklore

                    Prevention and Control

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                    Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.


                    Unwanted host plants can be removed to reduce the spread of C. filiformis (Nelson, 2008). Minimising coastal habitat modifications, such as bulldozing, forestry operations and firewood gathering, can help control C. filiformis, as can reforesting lowland coastal habitats to increase shade. Soil for nurseries or gardens should not be collected close to C. filiformis-infected plants (Nelson, 2008).

                    Cultural Control and Sanitary Measures

                    Shading will tend to reduce the vigour of C. filiformis. It may also be controlled by sheep grazing (Garden Guy Hawaii, 2014).

                    Physical/Mechanical Control

                    Manual removal is unlikely to be fully effective other than in the very early stages of an infestation, and even then will involve substantial damage to the host plant. Fire has also been suggested but will of course also destroy the host plants (Nelson, 2008).  

                    Biological Control

                    No attempts at biological control have been reported.

                    Chemical Control

                    Nelson (2008) suggested that herbicides might be used against C. filiformis, but no specific compounds have been mentioned other than 2,4-D, which was reported to be effective by Van Overbeek et al. (1946).


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                    Abubacker MN, Prince M, Hariharan Y, 2005. Histochemical and biochemical studies of parasite-host interaction of Cassytha filiformis Linn. and Zizyphus jujuba Lamk. Current Science, 89(12):2156-2159.

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                    Distribution References

                    CABI, Undated. Compendium record. Wallingford, UK: CABI

                    CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI

                    GBIF, 2014. Global Biodiversity Information Facility.

                    Ghosh R B, Das D, 1998. Cassytha filiformis - a census on its host range in the district of Midnapore, West Bengal. Environment and Ecology. 16 (2), 485-486.

                    Gopal A V, Devamma M N, Sreeramulu A, Reddy A K, 2013. Host-range studies of Cassytha filiformis L. in Chittoor District, Andhra Pradesh, India. Golden Research Thoughts. 2 (12), GRT-2452.

                    Harsha V H, Hebbar S S, Shripathi V, Hegde G R, 2006. Additions to the host-range of Cassytha filiformis L. (Cassythaceae) recorded in the Uttara Kannada District of Karnataka State (India). Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany. 30 (2), 231-234.

                    Irum Mukhtar, Ibatsam Khokhar, Sobia Mushtaq, 2010. First report on Cassytha filiformis L. (Lauraceae), a parasitic weed from Lahore, Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Weed Science Research. 16 (4), 451-457.

                    Manikandan R, Srivastava S K, 2010. Note on parasite-host interaction of Cassytha filiformis L. (Lauraceae). Indian Journal of Forestry. 33 (4), 637-638.

                    Ravi Upadhyay, 2004. Parasitic angiosperms of District Sidhi, Madhya Pradesh. Flora and Fauna (Jhansi). 10 (1), 13-14.

                    USDA-ARS, 2014. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.

                    USDA-NRCS, 2014. The PLANTS Database. Greensboro, North Carolina, USA: National Plant Data Team.

                    Whistler DW, 1996. Botanical Survey of Diego Garcia, Chagos Archipeligo, British Indian Ocean Territory.,


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                    28/04/14 Original text by:

                    Chris Parker, Consultant, UK

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