Cuscuta europaea

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Cuscuta europaea
Cuscuta europaea (on Urtica dioica).jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Solanales
Family: Convolvulaceae
Genus: Cuscuta
C. europaea
Binomial name
Cuscuta europaea

Cuscuta europaea, the greater dodder[1] or European dodder, is a parasitic plant native to Europe, which belongs to the family Convolvulaceae, but was formerly classified in the family Cuscutaceae. It grows on Asteraceae, Cannabaceae, Chenopodiaceae, Fabaceae, Urticaceae and other herbaceous plants, including garden plants such as Coleus and Impatiens. It is a notable parasite of lucerne (Medicago sativa).


The long thin stems of C. europaea are yellowish or reddish. They have an inflorescence that is produced laterally along the stems, the flowers are arranged in compact glomerules with few to many flowers. The pedicels are up to 1.5 millimetres (0.059 in) long. The 1.5 mm calyx is cup-shaped with 4 or 5 sepals that are triangular-ovate in shape. The 2.5–3 millimetres (0.098–0.118 in) corolla is pink, with 4 or sometime 5 lobes. The corolla remains after anthesis and is often reflexed. The stamens are inserted below sinus and the filaments are longer than the anthers. The anthers are ovate-circular with very thin scales. The ovary is subglobose with 2 styles. The stigmas are divergent or curved. The 3 mm wide, rounded seed capsule, is capped by the withered corolla. Each capsule often has 4, pale brown, elliptic, seeds that are 1 mm long.[2]


Cuscuta europaea can now be found in Japan and Algiers,[3] as well as N Africa, W Asia and Europe.[4] In India and Pakistan, the species occurs in the Himalayas, stretching from Kashmir to Sikkim on an altitude of 3,600 metres (11,800 ft).[5]


Derived from the Arabic word 'kechout', Cuscuta was the name used for this plant by Rufinus, a thirteenth-century botanist. The name europaea means 'European' or 'of Europe'.[6]

Invasive species[edit]

C. europaea was introduced to North America,[7] where it is considered to be an invasive species in Maine.[8] (Holm & et al 1979) described the weed as 'serious' in Afghanistan and Poland while it was 'principal' in Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. P. Wolswinkel, during the same year, also took note on its invasiveness, as the species was feeding on faba bian. In 1983, Wolswinkel and Ammerlaan had seen another damage that was caused by this plant, after finding dry matter and ash in the nettle and Aegopodium podagraria species. The species which were affected had 8.5% less chlorophyll, which C. europaea drains out of its host plants, as was suggested by (Gal'vidis 1993). In Italy, former Yugoslavia and eastern Europe the species was known to infest sugar beet as well being poisonous to livestock, such as horses.[2]


  1. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-01-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  2. ^ a b "European dodder (Cuscuta europaea". Plantwise Knowledge Bank. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  3. ^ Francis Wall Oliver. The Natural History of Plants: Their Forms, Growth, Reproduction. 1. p. 172.
  4. ^ Henning Heide-Jørgensen (2008). Parasitic flowering plants. Brill. p. 160. ISBN 978-90-04-16750-6.
  5. ^ "Greater Dodder". Flowers of India. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  6. ^ Gledhill, David (2008). "The Names of Plants". Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521866453 (hardback), ISBN 9780521685535 (paperback). pp 129, 159.
  7. ^ Clapham, A.R.; Tutin, T.G.; Moore, D.M. (1989) [1952]. Flora of the British Isles (3rd ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 365. ISBN 0-521-30985-9.
  8. ^ "Cuscuta europaea L." Retrieved 24 April 2019.