Cuscuta gronovii

A parasitic plant that wraps around a host plant taking its nutrients

Cuscuta gronovii common dodder

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA

There is nothing romantic about this parasitic native perennial wildflower, but it is still most interesting and, in its own way, quite beautiful. It is usually considered a member of the morning glory family and does have vine-like characteristics. Some botanists place the genus Cuscuta in its own family called Cuscutaceae. It is an example of a true parasitic plant.

The leaves are reduced to a few scales and have no chlorophyll. When the seed initially germinates, the dodder has roots in the soil. As the stem lengthens it wraps around any plant it touches. It then produces suckers that penetrate the host plant tissue and draw nourishment from it. The roots then die and the dodder looses all attachment to the soil.

There are at least fifteen species of dodder in eastern North America, differing only in minor features. Some are native and some are Eurasian imports. This species is common in most of North America, though populations are scattered in the south and west.  It is found in most counties Pennsylvania. When it blooms it produces many clusters of small, white, waxy bell-shaped flowers with 5 lobes. These are only about 1/8 inch in diameter.  The stem is orange or yellow in color.  This feature is more noticeable from a distance than the flowers.

The dodder can be found growing on its host in areas of low ground and thickets. Individual vines can be up to 18 inches long. Those species of dodder that grow exclusively on agricultural crops like flax or clover are significant farm pests.  Several states have declared this species a noxious weed.  The dodder produces flowers from July through October. It is also commonly called love-tangle, love vine or scaldweed.

Contributed by: Mark Welchley

Common in low wet areas.

Present throughout the state.

Wetland code: Not classified

Flowers July to October.

S-rank:  No Rank
G-rank:  G5 (Secure)

Cuscuta gronovii common dodder

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA
Cuscuta gronovii gallery
Plant Life-Form
annual herbaceous vine
Common Names
common dodder