Cuscuta spp. – Dodder

Cuscuta sp. - Dodder (host plant is Rosary Babybonnets (Coursetia glandulosa))

Cuscuta sp. - Dodder (host plant is Rosary Babybonnets (Coursetia glandulosa))

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Cuscuta spp.

Common Name: Dodder

Plant Characteristics

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.

Special Characteristics

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
Subclass: Asteridae
Order: Solanales
Family: Cuscutaceae – Dodder family
Genus: Cuscuta L. – dodder