Cuscuta monogyna (eastern dodder)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Rainfall Regime
- Soil Tolerances
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Cuscuta monogyna Vahl
Preferred Common Name
- eastern dodder
Other Scientific Names
- Cuscuta astyla Engelm.
- Cuscuta scandens Brot.
- Monogynella blancheana (Vahl) Des Moul. ex Engelm.
- Monogynella monogyna (Vahl) Hadač & Chrtek
- Monogynella vahliana (Vahl) Des Moul.
International Common Names
- English: Mediterranean tree dodder; one-seeded dodder
- Spanish: azafranillo; azafrin borde; barba de ajedrea; barba de raposo; barbas de capuchino; barbas de cuco; cabellos de monte; cabellos de Nuestro Senor; cabellos de tomillo; cabellos de Venus; coscuta; cuscuta; epitimo; flores de tomillo; manto de la Virgen; pelillo; tapioca; tina
- French: cuscute à un style; cuscute de la vigne; cuscute des agrumes; rache à un style
Local Common Names
- Russian: povilika odnostolbikovaya
- Bulgaria: povilika odnopestichnaya; yednostʹlbchesta kukuvicha prezhda
- Croatia: jednovratna vilina kosa
- Italy: cuscuta con uno stilo
- Portugal: abracos; cabelos; cabelos-loiros; enleios; linheiro; linho-de-cuco; meadas
- Serbia: vilina kositsa; vrbova vilina kositsa
- Turkey: kızılkurtotu
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
Cuscuta monogyna is an aerial hemiparasitic plant native to the Mediterranean and temperate regions in Europe, Central Western Asia and North Africa. It has been introduced in Malta and Lebanon. There is no evidence of any impacts on natural habitat or biodiversity in these countries. It is considered invasive in Tajikistan, but the report did not differentiate between local and alien invasives. In its native range, C. monogyna is considered a weed species affecting crops in Ukraine and Russia, where it is included in the National List of Regulated Pests as a quarantine pest.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Solanales
- Family: Cuscutaceae
- Genus: Cuscuta
- Species: Cuscuta monogyna
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
Cuscuta is a genus commonly known as dodders, represented by approximately 200 holo- and hemiparasitic species (Kaštier et al., 2018). This genus was originally included as the only genus in the Cuscutaceae family, but it has since moved to the Convolvulaceae (Stefanovic and Olmstead, 2004). Cuscuta is divided into three subgenera on the basis of style fusion and stigma shape (Engelmann, 1859). C. monogyna belongs to the subgenus Monogyna (which consists of thick-stemmed species that commonly parasitize trees and shrubs and have the two styles fused for most or all of their length), section Monogynella (which have shorter, stouter stigmas) (Yuncker, 1932). C.monogyna Vahl is an accepted name (Valentine, 1972) and includes two accepted taxonomic infraspecifics: C. monogyna subsp. esquamata (Engelm.) Plitmann and C. monogyna subsp. monogyna.
DescriptionTop of page
The following description is from Flora of China Editorial Committee (2019):
Stems pinkish, deep purple tuberculate, stout, 1-2 mm in diam. Inflorescences loosely or densely spicate-paniculate; bracts ovate-circular or ovate-triangular, 1-2 mm, fleshy, apex acute. Flowers subsessile or pedicellate. Calyx cupular; sepals ovate-circular, equal, apex acute. Corolla rose to white, or purple late in anthesis, urceolate to tubular, or campanulate, 3-3.5 mm; lobes 5, ovate-circular, 1/2 length of tube, margin entire or minutely dentate, apex obtuse. Stamens inserted at throat; filaments ca. as long as anthers; anthers oval or oval-cordate; scales oblong, reaching middle of tube, ± 2-cleft, fimbriate. Ovary subglobose. Style 1, ca. 0.5 mm; stigma capitate, ca. as long as style, shallowly cleft. Capsule ovoid-globose, ca. 4 mm, circumscissile. Seeds 1 or 2, dark brown, subcordate, 3-3.5 mm, smooth.
Plant TypeTop of page
Seed / spore propagated
Vine / climber
DistributionTop of page
Cuscuta monogyna is native to the Mediterranean, Central, Southern, Northwestern and Eastern Europe and Central and Western Asia, as well as the Northern Caucasus, Trans-Caucasus and North Africa (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2019; World Flora Online, 2019). It has been introduced in Malta and Lebanon (von Raab-Straube, 2018). It is considered invasive in Tajikistan, but the report did not differentiate between local and alien invasives (CBD, 2020).
Distribution TableTop of page
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 Feb 2022
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|China||Present||Native||Native only to Xinjiang|
|Tajikistan||Present||One of five Cuscuta species that have been identified as harmful weeds, but impacts are not detailed|
|Austria||Present||Introduced||As: Cuscuta scandens. First reported: <1840|
|Federal Republic of Yugoslavia||Present||Native|
|Poland||Present||Introduced||1956||As: Cuscuta scandens|
|Sweden||Present||Introduced||As: Cuscuta scandens. First reported: <1935|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
Cuscuta spp. are subject to the strict quarantine regulations now in place in most countries (Holm et al., 1997), which should ensure that there is little risk of introduction.
HabitatTop of page
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Principal habitat||Natural|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
Cuscuta monogyna is included in the National List of Regulated Pests as a quarantine pest present locally in crops in Ukraine (EPPO, 2014). It is also included in the list of quarantine pests in the Russian Federation (EPPO, 2009) and is of significance for vineyard crops (Fedorov, 2001). It is found growing in cereal crops in Tajikistan (Nowak et al., 2014), but no further information exists about its agricultural impact.
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
Biology and EcologyTop of page
The flowers are actinomorphic hermaphrodites only, with homogeneous seeds and fruits (Danin and Fragman-Sapir, 2016). C. monogyna flowers need insects for fertilization and pollination (Nazari and Tavakoli, 1995). Most Cuscuta species readily produce massive quantities of seed (McNeal et al., 2007).
Physiology and Phenology
Flowering times are variable depending on climatic condition. In Israel flowering is from May to September (Danin and Fragman-Sapir, 2016) and in Malta from February to April (Mifsud, 2020). The seeds are mature between in the middle to the end of summer. Numerous seeds are produced and can form soil seed banks; large numbers (each filament mass is about 1500 seeds and for a whole plant about 3000 seeds) with high viability are produced and remain on the ground until germination starts in the next season (Nazari and Tavakoli, 1995).
The seeds can remain dormant in soil for many years, for some Cuscuta species this can be for more than 20 years (Baskin and Baskin, 2014). Seeds of C.monogyna appear to have a relatively high temperature requirement of 30-33°C for maximum germination (Baskin and Baskin, 2014), but the most appropriate temperature for germination is 10-25°C. Sunny conditions are required and the seed should be buried in the soil at a depth of 3-7 cm. Germination is low in the first year (Nazari and Tavakoli, 1995). Once germination has started, the radical of the embryo develops into a root, which absorbs water from the soil; and the embryonic shoot bud is able to spend several weeks without a host. Thin and whitish filaments come out from the seeds, which start to attach to the understory grasses, becoming brownish in colour. Growth of the filaments reduces from the middle of September and stops completely in December. The filaments become dry and black and disappear in winter (Nazari and Tavakoli, 1995).
Nearly all species of Cuscuta retain some photosynthetic ability, especially as seedlings and in maturing fruits (McNeal et al., 2007). They contain trace amounts of chlorophyll and there is no RUBISCO activity (van der Kooij et al., 2000; Těšitel, 2016). Cuscuta spp. have no roots at maturity and their leaves are reduced to minute scales; their vegetative portion appears to be a stem only; and they live as stem holoparasites on other plants (Jones, 2018). The adult plants need a host as a source of nutrients and have a special adhesion/absorption organ called the haustorium, which is able to penetrate into the vascular system of the stems, leaves or roots of the hosts. (McNeal et al., 2007; Kaštier et al., 2018). It is observed that the cytoskeleton in dodder shoot cells is organized in a similar way to non-parasitic dicots, while in the quickly senescing root-like structure and prehaustorium the cytoskeletal organization has some peculiarities (Kaštier et al., 2018).
Cuscuta spp. are parasitic plants that are are reported around the world with different host ranges, cultivated or not (Hull, 2002). The natural hosts of Cuscuta are mainly dicotyledonous plants from Brassicaceae, Leguminosae, Solanaceae and other taxa (García et al., 2014). Some Cuscuta species are host specific (Abaye, 2019), but C. monogyna is a generalist with broad host ranges, mostly bushes and even trees (Kaštier et al., 2018), as well as grasses and vines (Vitis, Rubus, Pistacia, Laurus, Olea, Viburnum, Salix, Jasminum, Tamarix, Berberis, Syringa, Cytisus, Cotinus, Clematis, Paliurus, Punica, Ricinus, etc.). Other recent hosts are Glycyrrhiza glabra in Armenia (Piwowarczyk et al., 2018); Ficus carica in the Crimean Peninsula (Krasylenko and Piwowarczyk, 2019); and the oak tree, Quercus persica [Quercus brantii], which extends from Eastern and Western Azerbaijan to Southwestern Iran (Nazari and Tavakoli, 1995). Occasionally, hosts are other plants, such as Alhagi, Artemisia, Salsola, Cardaria, Phragmites (Piwowarczyk et al., 2018). In the Iberian Peninsula, it is a parasite of trees and shrubs of different species (e.g. Retama sphaerocarpa, Dittrichia viscosa and Tamarix (Garcia, 2012).
Cuscutamonogyna occurs in a wide range of climates, temperate and subtropical and soils and has some tolerance of saline conditions (Dubyna et al., 1995). In Iran, it grows from 1250-2200 m above sea level (Nazari and Tavakoli, 1995) and from 300-800 m altitude in the Iberian Peninsula (Garcia, 2012).
ClimateTop of page
|BS - Steppe climate||Preferred||> 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation|
|Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter||Preferred||Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)|
|Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year|
|Ds - Continental climate with dry summer||Preferred||Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)|
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Rainfall RegimeTop of page
Soil TolerancesTop of page
- seasonally waterlogged
Special soil tolerances
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
It has been observed that the larvae of Eupithecia barteli, a moth in the family Geometridae, have been found in the ripening seed balls of C. monogyna in Kyrgyzstan and southern Kazakhstan (Mironov and Galsworthy, 2013). For further information on natural enemies of Cuscuta spp., including C. monogyna, see reviews by CAB International (1987).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
The mechanism of dispersal of Cuscuta spp. seeds is by gravity.
Vector Transmission (Biotic)
Livestock can disperse the seeds as they are not digested in the tracts of ruminants (Nazari and Tavakoli, 1995). It has also been pointed out that birds can play a role in seed dispersal (Nazari and Tavakoli, 1995; Mifsud, 2020).
There is no evidence of intentional introductions of C. monogyna outside its natural range.
Pathway CausesTop of page
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
Economic ImpactTop of page
Cuscuta spp. affect many thousands of hectares of land worldwide, reducing yields, restricting choice of crop and interfering with international trade; but there are a few species of concern to agriculture. By far the most important of these is C. campestris (Parker, 2012), but C. monogyna and C. reflexa are also considered economically important species and occur on fruit and shrub crops in the Middle East and South Asia (Parker, 2012). In its native range C. monogyna is present in crops in Ukraine (EPPO, 2014) and of significance for vineyard crops in Russia (Fedorov, 2001). It is found growing in cereal crops in Tajikistan (Nowak et al., 2014), but no further information exists about its agricultural impact.
Cuscuta monogyna is a vector of the yellow diseases group transmitted to plants (Maramorosch, 2012), but this is probably an insignificant factor in the transmission of economically important diseases in the field (Hull, 2002).
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Cuscuta monogyna is not naturalized in its non-native range: in Malta, it is reduced to small populations (Mifsud, 2020). There is no evidence of any impacts on natural habitat or biodiversity in its introduced range.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Is a habitat generalist
- Tolerant of shade
- Fast growing
- Has high reproductive potential
- Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
- Host damage
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts animal health
- Pest and disease transmission
- Parasitism (incl. parasitoid)
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
UsesTop of page
Many parasitic plants, including Cuscuta spp., can transmit viruses between taxonomically disparate plant families (Jones, 2018). They have been used as a research tool to create a bridge between different plants for the transmission of viruses and mycoplasma-like organisms from one host to another, but in recent times are rarely used in experimental work (Hull, 2002).
Uses ListTop of page
- Laboratory use
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
The identification of species within Cuscuta can be problematic due to the loss of vegetative organs and the reduced sizes of structures with relevance for taxonomic purposes (McNeal et al., 2007). C. monogyna can be distinguished from other Cuscuta spp. because of the presence of a single style in the gynoecium and seeds that are 2.8-3.6 mm long (Garcia, 2012).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
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.
Parasitic weeds are controlled through an integrated approach, employing a variety of measures in a concerted manner, starting with containment and sanitation, direct and indirect measures to prevent the damage caused by the parasites and, finally, eradicating the parasite seedbank in the soil (Saric-Krsmanovic et al., 2017).
Thus, various methods are used (or have been used) in attempts to control Cuscuta in crops, including burning portions of fields that are badly infested in order to destroy the seeds, solarization, biological control and an integration of crop rotation and prevention of Cuscuta seed production (Baskin and Baskin, 2014), plus prevention of movement of livestock (Nazari and Tavakoli, 1995).
Cuscuta spp. are declared Class 1 Prohibited Noxious Weed Seed in Canada (Government of Canada, 2016) and a noxious weed in 25 other countries (Holm et al., 1997), given the risk of it being introduced as a contaminant of crop seeds.
Pre-emergence and post-emergence herbicides can be used (Baskin and Baskin, 2014). No herbicide gives fully reliable control and the only option is the removal of the parasitic plants together with host in order to prevent spread and seeding (Parker, 2012).
Alternaria destruens strain 059 is a fungus that is parasitic to the more common Cuscuta species, but has not been tested on C. monogyna. It does not pose any risk to humans and other non-target species (Bailey, 2014).
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
Risk assessments for C. monogyna are necessary in order to determine the risk of its introduction and associated invasiveness.
ReferencesTop of page
Abaye AO, 2019. Non leguminous Forbs. In: Common Grasses, Legumes and Forbs of the Eastern United States, [ed. by Abaye AO]. Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Academic Press. 167-364.
Bailey KL, 2014. The bioherbicide approach to weed control using plant pathogens. In: Integrated Pest Management, [ed. by Abrol DP]. Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Academic Press. 245-266.
Baskin CC, Baskin JM, 2014. Germination ecology of plants with specialized life cycles and/or habitats. In: Seeds (Second Edition), [ed. by Baskin CC, Baskin JM]. Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Academic Press. 869-1004.
CBD, 2020. Biological Diversity of Tajikistan - National Strategy and Action Plan on Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity. Convention on Biological Diversity.https://www.cbd.int/doc/world/tj/tj-nbsap-01-p04-en.pdf
Danin A, Fragman-Sapir O, 2016. Flora of Israel Online. http://flora.org.il/en/plants/
Dubyna, D. V., Neuhäuslová, Z., Šeljag-Sosonko, J. R., 1995. Vegetation of the Birjučij Island spit in the Azov sea. Sand steppe vegetation. Folia Geobotanica et Phytotaxonomica, 30(1), 1-31. doi: 10.1007/BF02813216
Engelmann G, 1859. Systematic arrangement of the species of the genus Cuscuta, with critical remarks on old species and descriptions of new ones. Transactions of the Academy of Science of Saint Louis, 1, 453-523.
EPPO, 2009. Lists of invasive alien plants in Russia. EPPO Reporting Service no. 07-2009 Num. article: 2009/149. Paris, France: EPPO.
EPPO, 2014. Situation of several quarantine pests in Ukraine in 2014. EPPO Reporting Service no. 04-2014. Num. article: 2014/075. Paris, France: EPPO.
Fedorov, A., 2001. Flora of Russia: the European part and bordering regions. Volume 5: Magnoliophyta (=Angiospermae), Magnoliopsida (=Dicotyledones), [ed. by Fedorov, A.]. Rotterdam, Netherlands: A.A. Balkema.xvi + 515 pp.
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Garcia MA, 2012. Cuscuta L. In: Flora Iberica 11 [ed. by Castroviejo S, Aedo C, Laínz M, Muñoz Garmendia F, Nieto Feliner G, Paiva J, Benedí C]. Madrid, Spain: Real Jardín Botánico, CSIC.149-152. http://www.floraiberica.es/floraiberica/texto/pdfs/11_135_06_Cuscuta.pdf
García, M. A., Costea, M., Kuzmina, M., Stefanović, S., 2014. Phylogeny, character evolution, and biogeography of Cuscuta (dodders; Convolvulaceae) inferred from coding plastid and nuclear sequences. American Journal of Botany, 101(4), 670-690. doi: 10.3732/ajb.1300449
Government of Canada, 2016. Weed Seeds Order, 2016. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. Government of Canada.https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2016-93/FullText.html
Hull R, 2002. Transmission 2: Mechanical, Seed, Pollen and Epidemiology. In: Matthew’s Plant Virology (Fourth Edition), Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Academic Press.
Jones, R. A. C., 2018. Plant and insect viruses in managed and natural environments: novel and neglected transmission pathways. Advances in Virus Research, 101, 149-187. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0065352718300095
Kaštier, P., Krasylenko, Y. A., Martinčová, M., Panteris, E., Šamaj, J., Blehová, A., 2018. Cytoskeleton in the parasitic plant Cuscuta during germination and prehaustorium formation. Frontiers in Plant Science, 9(June), 794. https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpls.2018.00794/full
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Piwowarczyk, R., Góralski, G., Denysenko-Bennett, M., Kwolek, D., Joachimiak, A. J., Fayvush, G., 2018. First report of eastern dodder (Cuscuta monogyna) parasitizing licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) in Armenia. Plant Disease, 102(12), 2664. doi: 10.1094/pdis-06-18-1058-pdn
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ContributorsTop of page
06/05/20 Original text by:
Manuel Angel Duenas-Lopez, Consultant, UK
Distribution MapsTop of page
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