Scientific Name: Cuscuta spp.
Common Name: Dodder
Duration: Annual, Perennial (most commonly)
Growth Habit: Vine, Herb/Forb, Parasite
Arizona Native Status: Native. All Dodder species in Arizona are native.
Habitat: Desert, Upland, Mountain, Riparian
Flower Color: Cream or white
Flowering Season: Spring, Summer
Height: Twining to several feet (1m) long or more
Description: The flowers are small and have 4 or 5 lobes, sepals, and stamens. Dodders are parasites of other plants and do not have true leaves, roots, or green chlorophyll. The twining, yellow to orange stems attach to and obtain nutrients from a variety of host plants. Dodders typically appear as a tangled mass of orange or yellow string in the host plant. The unfortunate host plant pictured above is a Rosary Babybonnets (Coursetia glandulosa).
There are 17 species of dodder found here in Arizona, and identifying a particular species can require a microscope and expertise.
Legal Status – All Arizona Dodder species are Arizona State-listed Noxious Weeds (Prohibited Noxious Weeds, Restricted Noxious Weeds).
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Family: Cuscutaceae – Dodder family
Genus: Cuscuta L. – dodder