Invasive Species Compendium

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Datasheet

Cuscuta epithymum
(alfalfa dodder)

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Datasheet

Cuscuta epithymum (alfalfa dodder)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 22 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Cuscuta epithymum
  • Preferred Common Name
  • alfalfa dodder
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • C. epithymum has not proved to be a highly invasive species, but there are very significant risks of accidental introduction with contaminated crop seed and any such introduction could cause serious crop damage, and prejudice options for trading crop...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Cuscuta epithymum, flowering, on Ulex europaeus (gorse). Devon, UK.
TitleFlowers
CaptionCuscuta epithymum, flowering, on Ulex europaeus (gorse). Devon, UK.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Cuscuta epithymum, flowering, on Ulex europaeus (gorse). Devon, UK.
FlowersCuscuta epithymum, flowering, on Ulex europaeus (gorse). Devon, UK.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
C. epithymum, flowering, on Ulex europaeus (gorse) in Devon, UK.
TitleFlowering stage
CaptionC. epithymum, flowering, on Ulex europaeus (gorse) in Devon, UK.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
C. epithymum, flowering, on Ulex europaeus (gorse) in Devon, UK.
Flowering stageC. epithymum, flowering, on Ulex europaeus (gorse) in Devon, UK.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
C. epithymum, vegetative, smothering Ulex europaeus (gorse) in Cornwall, UK.
TitleHabit
CaptionC. epithymum, vegetative, smothering Ulex europaeus (gorse) in Cornwall, UK.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
C. epithymum, vegetative, smothering Ulex europaeus (gorse) in Cornwall, UK.
HabitC. epithymum, vegetative, smothering Ulex europaeus (gorse) in Cornwall, UK.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Cuscuta epithymum (L.) L. 1774

Preferred Common Name

  • alfalfa dodder

Other Scientific Names

  • Cuscuta alba C. Presl
  • Cuscuta barbuvea Samp.
  • Cuscuta epithymum subsp. trifolii (Bab.) Hegi
  • Cuscuta prodanii Buia
  • Cuscuta stenoloba Bornm. & O. Schwarz
  • Cuscuta trifolii Bab. (1843)

International Common Names

  • English: clover dodder; common dodder
  • Spanish: cuscuta del trebol; epitimo
  • French: cuscute du thym; cuscute du thyme; cuscute du trefle
  • Portuguese: cabelos

Local Common Names

  • Belgium: klaverwarkruid
  • Denmark: klover-silke
  • Finland: apilanvieras
  • Germany: Klee- Seide; Ouendel-Seide; Thymian-Seide
  • Italy: cuscuta del trifoglio; cuscuta piccola
  • Netherlands: duivelsnaaigaren; klein Warkruid
  • New Zealand: devil's gut
  • South Africa: klein dodder; lesser dodder
  • Sweden: kloeversnaerja

EPPO code

  • CVCEY (Cuscuta epithymum)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page C. epithymum has not proved to be a highly invasive species, but there are very significant risks of accidental introduction with contaminated crop seed and any such introduction could cause serious crop damage, and prejudice options for trading crop produce.

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Solanales
  •                         Family: Cuscutaceae
  •                             Genus: Cuscuta
  •                                 Species: Cuscuta epithymum

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page While the genus Cuscuta is still considered here to belong in the distinct family Cuscutaceae, the parasitic plant website Parasitic Plant Connection (2003) places Cuscuta in the sub-family Cuscutoideae within Convolvulaceae and the validity of this has recently been supported by Stefanovich et al. (2002) who conclude from DNA studies that Cuscuta is 'nested within Convolvulaceae' and should not be separated into its own family.

Two subspecies are generally recognized in C. epithymum, ssp epithymum (= ssp. trifolii) and ssp. kotschyi (e.g. Valentine, 1972). Feinbrun (1970) also recognizes the varieties epithymum, angustissima and alba within ssp. epithymum. Yuncker (1932) distinguishes the varieties macranthera, angustissima, alba, rubella, kotschyi, sagittanthera and scabrella.

Description

Top of page Cuscuta species are obligate parasites with negligible chlorophyll and leaves reduced to minute scales on a glabrous stem which twines around the shoots and leaves of suitable host plants. In C. epithymum the stems are pink or reddish, filiform, about 1 mm in diameter. Inflorescences are lateral, compact clusters, 7-10 mm in diameter, of few to many sessile pink or white flowers. Calyx deeply lobed, 1.5-2 mm long. Corolla of 5 triangular lobes, acute or acuminate, pink, 3-4 x 2.5 mm. Stamens have filaments longer than the ovate-circular anthers. Scales very thin obovate, 2-cleft or entire. Styles 2 with filiform divergent stigmas about as long as the styles. Mature capsule 2 mm diameter, depressed-globose. Seeds 2-3, about 1 mm long, trigonous.

Plant Type

Top of page Annual
Herbaceous
Parasitic
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated
Vine / climber

Distribution

Top of page Native distribution includes Europe, West Asia and northern Africa, while it occurs as an introduced species much further afield in North America, South America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. It is not clear whether the widespread occurrence in eastern and southern Africa is natural or introduced.

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

Africa

AlgeriaPresentNativeUSDA (2003)
EgyptPresentNativeHolm et al. (1979)
LibyaPresentNativeUSDA (2003)
MoroccoPresentNativeUSDA (2003)
South AfricaPresentIntroducedHolm et al. (1979)
TunisiaPresentNativeUSDA (2003)

Asia

AfghanistanPresentNativeHolm et al. (1979)
ArmeniaPresentNativeUSDA (2003)
AzerbaijanPresentNativeUSDA (2003)
GeorgiaPresentNativeUSDA (2003)
IranPresentNativeUSDA (2003)
IsraelPresentNativeUSDA (2003)
JapanPresentIntroducedHolm et al. (1979)
JordanPresentNativeUSDA (2003)
KazakhstanPresentNativeUSDA (2003)
LebanonPresentNativeUSDA (2003)
PakistanPresentAnjum Perveen and Mohammad Qaiser (2004)
SyriaPresentNativeUSDA (2003)
TurkeyPresentNativeUSDA (2003)

Europe

AlbaniaPresentNativeValentine (1972)
AustriaPresentValentine (1972)
BelarusPresentNativeUSDA (2003)
BelgiumPresentNativeValentine (1972)
BulgariaPresentNativeValentine (1972)
CzechoslovakiaPresentNativeValentine (1972)
Federal Republic of YugoslaviaPresentNativeValentine (1972)
DenmarkPresentNativeValentine (1972)
EstoniaPresentNativeUSDA (2003)
FinlandPresentNativeValentine (1972)
FrancePresentNativeValentine (1972)
-CorsicaPresentNativeValentine (1972)
GermanyPresentNativeValentine (1972)
GreecePresentNativeValentine (1972)
HungaryPresent, Few occurrencesNativeValentine (1972)
IrelandPresentNativeValentine (1972)
ItalyPresentNativeValentine (1972)
LatviaPresentNativeUSDA (2003)
LithuaniaPresentNativeUSDA (2003)
NetherlandsPresentNativeValentine (1972)
NorwayPresentNativeValentine (1972)
PolandPresentNativeValentine (1972)
RomaniaPresentNativeValentine (1972)
RussiaPresentCABI (Undated)Present based on regional distribution.
-Northern RussiaPresentNativeValentine (1972)
-Western SiberiaPresentNativeUSDA (2003)
SerbiaPresentVeljkovic et al. (2007)
SlovakiaPresentCagáň et al. (2001)
SpainPresentNativeValentine (1972)
-Balearic IslandsPresentNativeValentine (1972)
SwitzerlandPresentNativeValentine (1972)
UkrainePresentNativeUSDA (2003)
United KingdomPresentNativeValentine (1972)

North America

CanadaPresentIntroducedHolm et al. (1979)
United StatesPresentCABI (Undated)Present based on regional distribution.
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-ConnecticutPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-IowaPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-KentuckyPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-MainePresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-MarylandPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-MassachusettsPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-MichiganPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-MissouriPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-MontanaPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-NebraskaPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-NevadaPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-New JerseyPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-New MexicoPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-New YorkPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-North DakotaPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-OhioPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-OregonPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-Rhode IslandPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-South DakotaPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-VermontPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-VirginiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-WashingtonPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-West VirginiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)
-WyomingPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA (2003)

Oceania

AustraliaPresentCABI (Undated)Present based on regional distribution.
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedLazarides et al. (1997)
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedLazarides et al. (1997)
-South AustraliaPresentIntroducedLazarides et al. (1997)
-TasmaniaPresentIntroducedLazarides et al. (1997)
-VictoriaPresentIntroducedLazarides et al. (1997)
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroducedLazarides et al. (1997)
New ZealandPresent, WidespreadIntroducedHolm et al. (1979); Webb et al. (1988)

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedHolm et al. (1979)
ChilePresentIntroducedHolm et al. (1979)
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedHolm et al. (1979)

History of Introduction and Spread

Top of page The history of spread of this species is not well documented.

Risk of Introduction

Top of page Many countries include all Cuscuta species in their official lists of prohibited, quarantine species. Holm et al. (1997) indicate that 25 countries have declared Cuscuta spp. as noxious, and that the movement of Cuscuta-infested material is prohibited in every state of the USA.

Dry heat at 100°C for 15 minutes has been shown to selectively kill seeds of Cuscuta spp. in nigerseed (Guizotia abyssinica) (Strasser, 1988), providing a means of de-contaminating contaminated imports, but it is not certain that this is being used in practice.

Habitat

Top of page C. epithymum occurs on a wide range of hosts over a considerable range of soils and climates, temperate and subtropical. Provided suitable hosts are present there seems little to restrict its distribution outside the tropics.

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page C. epithymum is recorded on a wide range of hosts, including shrubby species and the fern Pteridium esculentum. The crop plants most affected are the forage legumes, Trifolium species and Medicago sativa, while one of the most conspicuously favoured wild hosts in the UK is Ulex europaea. The subspecies kotschyi is described as occurring mainly on 'dwarf shrubs'. In Pakistan it is described as a 'parasite of orchards' (Marwat et al., 1993).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Achillea millefolium (yarrow)AsteraceaeWild host
Asperula cynanchica (squinancywort)RubiaceaeWild host
Calluna vulgaris (heather)EricaceaeWild host
Daucus carota (carrot)ApiaceaeMain
Hormathophylla spinosaBrassicaceaeWild host
Lotus corniculatus (bird's-foot trefoil)FabaceaeWild host
Medicago sativa (lucerne)FabaceaeMain
Pteridium esculentumDennstaedtiaceaeWild host
Thymus praecoxLamiaceaeWild host
Trifolium pratense (red clover)FabaceaeMain
Ulex europaeus (gorse)FabaceaeWild host
Ziziphus lotus (wild jujube)RhamnaceaeWild host

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Vegetative growing stage

Biology and Ecology

Top of page Genetics

Chromosome number 2n = 14

Physiology and Phenology

Cuscuta species are obligate parasites with negligible chlorophyll, totally dependent on attachment to a host plant within a few days after germination. Germination does not depend on the presence of host plants, but occurs over a prolonged period, as there is a proportion of hard-coated seeds which gradually become permeable and allow absorption of water. This ensures that not too many seeds germinate at one time in the possible absence of a potential host plant. In many species, there is also an innate dormancy which is broken by chilling over the winter. Seed germination is very high in C. epithymum, the optimal temperature being 15-20°C. On germination, a very short root is formed which provides anchorage only, while the plumule elongates rapidly and, in the light, circumnutates widely anticlockwise until contact is made with a stem or other solid object. The length of the seedling rarely exceeds 10 cm and if a host is not located, the seedling dies within a few days. Once contact with a stem or other object is made, the shoot will twine around it, whether living or inanimate and the root and shoot base below this point will soon die. The coiling action requires blue or far-red light and is suppressed under red light or darkness. If a suitable host stem is found, several coils will develop, with pre-haustorial swellings on the inner face of the coiled stem, from which full haustoria develop in the presence of cytokinins, which derive partly from the parasite and partly from the host. Intrusive organs develop from the haustorium and searching hyphae penetrate the host tissues by a combination of separation and penetration of cells (these processes, for Cuscuta species generally, are reviewed by Parker and Riches, 1993). Connections are then formed by a bridge of tracheids with the host xylem; whereas connection with the phloem via plasmodesmata between searching hyphae and host parenchyma cells has also been confirmed by Dorr (1987). Once the haustorial connection is complete, new shoot buds develop close by. Some Cuscuta species, notably C. reflexa, have measurable levels of chlorophyll and photosynthesis, but C. epithymum does not.

Vegetative growth may continue for some time before any flowers are formed, or flowering may occur very rapidly. Flowering is thought by some authors to be linked to the flowering of the host plant but this is not apparently consistent. Although normally annual in behaviour, C. epithymum stems may survive over winter on the crowns of red clover (Trifolium pratense) and lucerne or on weeds (Stojanovic and Mijatovic, 1973).

Reproductive Biology

Cuscuta species are propagated mainly by seed, though individual plants may spread vegetatively over many separate host plants. Stem fragments may also be able to establish new plants, though it is not known whether this can occur with C. epithymum. Cross-pollination by insects is believed to occur, as to be expected from the notable fragrance of the flowers which can be quite striking from a sizeable population, but C. epithymum may be self-pollinated when insects are not present (Gaertner, 1950). Seed production from a single plant can reach 16,000 (Holm et al., 1997).

There are no specialized dispersal methods for Cuscuta species and without the assistance of man or animals, it is presumed to depend on soil or water movement (Dawson et al., 1994).

C. epithymum behaves mainly as an annual species but haustorial tissue may perennate within the crowns of legumes or weeds (Ashton and Santana, 1976).

Environmental Requirements
The mainly temperate distribution of C. epithymum suggests that this species is dependent on a cool or cold winter period for 'stratification' and breakage of seed dormancy. There is no evidence of association with particular soil types, or level of soil fertility, nor any requirement for especially moist or dry conditions.

Associations

On limestone pavement in Ireland, C. epithymum was found in Asperulo-Seslerietum vegetation, an association assigned to the chalk grassland class Festuco-Brometea. The vegetation of the limestone pavement habitat was compared with mature dune grassland at Fanore, also in the Burren region of Ireland, where extensive populations of C. epithymum occur in vegetation assigned to the Camptothecio-Asperuletum, another association belonging to the Festuco-Brometea class (Doyle, 1993).

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
0 0 0 0

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 12 20
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 30
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -14

Rainfall

Top of page
ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration07number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall1551100mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Summer
Uniform
Winter

Soil Tolerances

Top of page

Soil drainage

  • free
  • impeded

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • shallow

Natural enemies

Top of page
Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Colletotrichum destructivum Pathogen Stems
Smicronyx jungermanniae Herbivore Stems

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page The best-recorded instances of insect damage to C. epithymum are for the gall-forming weevil Smicronyx jungermanniae in eastern Europe, but other insects and fungi associated with other Cuscuta species (see data sheets for C. campestris, C. europaea and C. reflexa) are almost certain to occur also.

Horvath (1983) notes that S. jungermanniae is widespread in Hungary where it has 2-3 generations a year and is oligotrophic on dodders, including Cuscuta campestris and C. epithymum ssp. epithymum (C. trifolii). It has been used in the USSR for the biological control of Cuscuta spp. It prevents flowering and fruiting on about 30-40% of the parasite plants.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

Natural, non-biotic, dispersal of Cuscuta seed is very limited and must occur mainly by water.

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

Animals may help spread of Cuscuta on an occasional basis following ingestion, or by transfer of soil containing the seeds.

Agricultural Practices

Man is by far the most important dispersal agent, thanks to the harvesting and transport of crop material contaminated with vines and seeds of Cuscuta, and by movement of soil on farm machinery.

Accidental Introduction

Accidental introduction across national boundaries can quite readily occur when Cuscuta seed is a contaminant of crop seed, as it may well be in seed of clovers or lucerne.

Intentional Introduction

Intentional introduction is relatively unlikely, though any Cuscuta species could occasionally be regarded as a botanical curiosity and introduced for this reason.

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx seeds; stems
Fruits (inc. pods) seeds
Growing medium accompanying plants seeds
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches stems
True seeds (inc. grain) seeds
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes
Leaves
Roots

Impact Summary

Top of page
CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) None
Crop production Negative
Environment (generally) None
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health None
Livestock production None
Native fauna None
Native flora None
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations Negative
Transport/travel None

Impact

Top of page Cuscuta spp. are known to be powerful sinks for metabolites, causing a severe drain on host resources and often completely preventing normal fruit development, as shown by Wolswinkel (1979) for C. europaea on faba bean (Vicia faba). Owing to this powerful metabolic sink effect, studied and described in detail by Wolswinkel and Ammerlaan (1983), the damage to infected hosts can be severe, to the extent of total crop loss. C. epithymum is believed to have equivalent mechanisms and is observed likewise to cause severe reductions in host vigour.

Holm et al. (1979) record C. epithymum as a 'serious' weed in Afghanistan, Hungary, Poland and Turkey, a 'principal' weed in Italy, Portugal and the former USSR, and 'common' in Canada, Iran, South Africa, Spain and Venezuela. The crops affected are presumed to be mainly clovers, lucerne and carrot. In Holm et al. (1997) C. epithymum is described as being a weed of 25 crops in 13 countries.

Infestations of C. epithymum on Hormathophylla spinosa (Cruciferae) in Spain did not significantly affect the fruit or seed production of its host plant, either during the study years or the years following strong infestation (Gomez, 1994) but in this case the dodder caused little harm mainly because it was scarce.

Environmental Impact

Top of page C. epithymum is not known to have caused any significant environmental impact.

Impact: Biodiversity

Top of page C. epithymum is not known to have caused any significant impact on biodiversity.

Social Impact

Top of page C. epithymum is not known to have caused any significant social impact.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

Top of page Cuscuta species are frequently used as a research tool, to create a bridge between different plants for transmission of viruses and mycoplasma-like organisms from one host to another (see Dawson et al., 1994).

Uses List

Top of page

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page Cuscuta species are all superficially very similar and difficult to separate without careful study of floral characteristics. C. epithymum is in section Cuscuta, characterized by two styles with linear stigmas. Other sections have a single style (Monogyna) or capitate stigmas (Grammica). A number of other weedy species occur in section Cuscuta. Several of those, including C. pedicellata and C. palaestina have mostly 4-part corollas, C. pedicellata with looser heads of 3-8 flowers; C. planiflora with very small dense heads, 4-6 mm across; while C. europaea has flowers shortly pedicelled and with obtuse corolla lobes; C. epilinum, occurring only on flax/linseed, has large flower heads over 15 mm across; C. planiflora also has a mostly 5-part corolla but flowers very small, 1-5-2.5 mm in dense heads only 5-6 mm across, and fleshy calyx tips.

Severova (1991) describes a range of characters useful for distinguishing different Cuscuta spp., including C. epithymum. The most comprehensive key is provided by Yuncker (1932). Keys to the European species are provided in Flora Europaea (Valentine, 1972) and by Feinbrun (1970) while Parker and Riches (1993) include most of those of agricultural significance.

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.

Cultural Control

Use of clean crop seed is vital. Seed crops which might have been infested should be inspected and cleaned if necessary, or seed should be obtained from a source known to be reliable. Separation of Cuscuta seeds from lucerne is quite successfully achieved by equipment comprising felt- or velvet-covered rollers to which the rough seeds of Cuscuta stick while the smoother crop seeds pass over (see Dawson et al., 1994).

Rotation with non-susceptible crops can be helpful. Cereals are virtually immune, but some broad-leaved crops may also be sufficiently resistant, including soyabean, kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), squash (Cucurbita sp.), cucumber and cotton (see Parker and Riches, 1993).

Deep shade suppresses the coiling and attachment of Cuscuta; hence, encouraging a dense crop canopy is a valuable component of any integrated control programme.

Mechanical Control

The young seedlings of Cuscuta, with rudimentary roots, are readily destroyed by shallow tillage before or after crop establishment. Hand-pulling is suitable only for scattered infestations as the infested crop plants have to be removed with the parasite. Scattered infestations of C. campestris have also been controlled by heat, using a hand-held flame gun. More extensive infestations of that species in lucerne are also sometimes treated with overall flaming, as the crop is able to recover. Close mowing is an alternative means of control in lucerne and clovers.

Chemical Control

There is relatively little information on the use of herbicides against C. epithymum but propyzamide has been used for its control in lucerne in the former Czechoslovakia (Froliseck, 1986) and chlorpropham for its control on Calluna vulgaris (Belgium, 1962).

Other herbicides of value in the control of other Cuscuta species, especially C. campestris, include metham-sodium and dazomet as pre-planting fumigants, trifluralin and related compounds, chlorthal-dimethyl, chlorpropham, pendimethalin, fluchloralin, butralin, etc. in lucerne and some other legumes. These might be expected to be equally effective against C. epithymum.

Biological Control

Biological control of C. epithymum has been considered in Yugoslavia, by augmentative release of the gall-forming weevil Smicronyx jungermanniae, but results were not encouraging (Parker and Riches, 1993). Attempts at biological control of other Cuscuta species have involved other Smicronyx species and the fly Melanagromyza cuscutae but with generally uncertain results according to Julien and Griffiths (1998). Among pathogens, a selected strain of Colletotrichum destructivum was shown to affect C. epithymum selectively in lucerne (Parker and Riches, 1993), and Alternaria cuscutacidae and a form of Colletotrichum gloeosporioides [Glomerella cingulata] have given helpful results against C. chinensis and C. australis (Parker and Riches, 1993; Julien and Griffiths, 1998).

The prospects for biological control of C. epithymum and other Cuscuta spp. have been reviewed by Girling et al. (1979).

Integrated Control

Integrated methods for control of Cuscuta species generally involve the all-important use of clean seed; good field hygiene to eradicate scattered infestations before they get out of control; good control of other weeds which might act as reservoirs of infestation; timing of tillage and planting to maximize destruction of parasite seedlings before sowing; and optimum planting arrangement and growing conditions for a good crop canopy to suppress development of the weed.

References

Top of page

Anjum Perveen; Mohammad Qaiser, 2004. Pollen flora of Pakistan - XLI. Cuscutaceae. Pakistan Journal of Botany, 36(3):475-480.

Ashton FM; Santana D, 1976. Cuscuta spp. (dodder): a literature review of its biology and control. University of California, Division of Agricultural Sciences Bulletin 1880.

Belgium, 1962. [Survey of the practical results obtained in 1962.] (in Flemish) Publication of the Rijkslandbouhogeschool, Centrum Onkruiddonderz., Gent. 11 pp.

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Dorr I, 1987. The haustorium of Cuscuta new structural results. Proceedings of the 4th international symposium on parasitic flowering plants Marburg, German Federal Republic, 163-170

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Feinbrun N, 1970. A taxonomic review of European Cuscutae. Israel Journal of Botany, 19:16-29.

Frolisek M, 1986. Effect of propyzamide-based preparations on the germination of dodder. Agrochemia, 26(1):17-20

Gaertner EE, 1950. Studies of seed germination, seed identification and host relationships in dodders, Cuscuta spp. Cornell Agricultural Experiment Station Memoirs 294. 56 pp.

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Gomez JM, 1994. Importance of direct and indirect effects in the interaction between a parasitic angiosperm (Cuscuta epithymum) and its host plant (Hormathophylla spinosa). Oikos, 71(1):97-106

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Horvath Z, 1983. Data on the biology of Smicronyx jungermannip Reich (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) living on dodder plants. Novenyvedelem, 19(11):501-508

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Lazarides M; Cowley K; Hohnen P, 1997. CSIRO handbook of Australian weeds. CSIRO handbook of Australian weeds., vii + 264 pp.

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Stojanovic D; Mijatovic K, 1973. Distribution, biology and control of Cuscuta spp. in Yugoslavia. Symposium on Parasitic Weeds, Malta, 1973, 269-279.

Strasser EG, 1988. Studies on the use of dry heat to decontaminate niger seed (Guizotia abyssinica) infested with dodder seed (Cuscuta sp.). Seed Science and Technology, 16(2):501-505

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Valentine DH, ed. , 1972. CXLVI Convolvulaceae. In: Tutin TG, Heywood VH, Burges NA, Moore DM, Valentine DH, Walters SM, Webb DA, eds. Flora Europaea Volume 3. Diapensiaceae to Myoporaceae. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 74-83.

Veljkovic B; Vrbnicanin S; Bozic D; Radanovic Z, 2007. Cuscuta campestris (Ynck) and Cuscuta epithymum (Murr.): serious problems in alfalfa in Serbia. In: European Weed Research Society, 14th EWRS Symposium, Hamar, Norway, 17-21 June 2007 [ed. by Fløistad, E.]. Doorwerth, Netherlands: European Weed Research Society, 74. http://www.ewrs-symposium2007.com

Webb CJ; Sykes WR; Garnock-Jones PJ, 1988. Flora of New Zealand Volume IV. Naturalised Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons. Christchurch, New Zealand: DSIR Botany Division, 1365 pp. http://floraseries.landcareresearch.co.nz/pages/Book.aspx?fileName=Flora%204.xml

Wolswinkel P, 1979. Transport of assimilates and mineral elements at the site of attachment of Cuscuta. The role of phloem unloading in the parasitic relationship. Proceedings, Second International Symposium on Parasitic Weeds, North Carolina, 1979., 156-164

Wolswinkel P; Ammerlaan A, 1983. Sucrose and hexose release by excised stem segments of Vicia faba L. The sucrose-specific stimulating influence of Cuscuta on sugar release and the activity of acid invertase. Journal of Experimental Botany, 34(148):1516-1527

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Distribution References

Anjum Perveen, Mohammad Qaiser, 2004. Pollen flora of Pakistan - XLI. Cuscutaceae. Pakistan Journal of Botany. 36 (3), 475-480.

CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI

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

Cagáň L, Komáromyová E, Barta M, Tóth P, 2001. Cuscuta lupuliformis Krocker (Cuscutaceae) - a new host for bean aphid, Aphis fabae Scopoli (Homoptera, Aphididae). Acta Fytotechnica et Zootechnica. 4 (3), 84.

Holm L, Pancho J V, Herberger J P, Plucknett D L, 1979. A geographical atlas of world weeds. New York, Chichester (), Brisbane, Toronto, UK: John Wiley and Sons. xlix + 391 pp.

Lazarides M, Cowley K, Hohnen P, 1997. CSIRO handbook of Australian weeds. Collingwood, Vic. Australia: CSIRO Publishing. vii + 264 pp.

USDA, 2003. USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network Online Database., http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html

Valentine DH, 1972. CXLVI Convolvulaceae. In: Flora Europaea Volume 3. Diapensiaceae to Myoporaceae, [ed. by Tutin TG, Heywood VH, Burges NA, Moore DM, Valentine DH, Walters SM, Webb DA]. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 74-83.

Veljkovic B, Vrbnicanin S, Bozic D, Radanovic Z, 2007. Cuscuta campestris (Ynck) and Cuscuta epithymum (Murr.): serious problems in alfalfa in Serbia. In: European Weed Research Society, 14th EWRS Symposium, Hamar, Norway, 17-21 June 2007 [European Weed Research Society, 14th EWRS Symposium, Hamar, Norway, 17-21 June 2007.], [ed. by Fløistad E]. Doorwerth, Netherlands: European Weed Research Society. 74. http://www.ewrs-symposium2007.com

Webb CJ, Sykes WR, Garnock-Jones PJ, 1988. Flora of New Zealand. Naturalised Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons., IV Christchurch, New Zealand: DSIR Botany Division. 1365 pp. http://floraseries.landcareresearch.co.nz/pages/Book.aspx?fileName=Flora%204.xml

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