Cuscuta alatiloba monosperma Yunck.
Cuscuta applanata Engelm.
Cuscuta carinata R.Br.
Cuscuta ciliaris Hohen.
Cuscuta exigua Engelm.
Cuscuta fimbriata Bunge ex Engelm.
Cuscuta hyalina Wight
Cuscuta maritima Makino
Cuscuta sulcata Roxb.
Grammica aphylla Lour.
Grammica applanata (Engelm.) Hadac & Chrtek
Pentake chinense (Lam.) Raf.
Common Name: Chinese Dodder
Cuscuta chinensis is a parasitic, herbaceous perennial plant, devoid of chlorophyll and obtaining its nourishment from the host plant around which it twines.
The plant is often used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is harvested from the wild and sold in local markets.
Cuscuta species can severely affect the plants they parasitize - when this involves plants sown as crops, yields can be badly impacted. Many Cuscuta species, therefore, are classified as weeds and sometimes have controls over their movements.
Northeast Africa; Asia from Arabia to Kazakhstan, east to Russian Far East (Primorye), Japan and Vietnam; Australia; southwest N. America.
Near seashores, C. and S. Japan[
]. Parasitic on a wide range of mainly herbacous plants, growing in fields, open mountain slopes, thickets and sandy beaches; at elevations up to 3,000 metres in most parts of China[
Cuscuta chinensis has a very wide native range, being found from the temperate zone (at both low and higher elevations) to tropical regions (mainly at higher elevations).
The plant grows best in a sunny position, in deep shade the coiling of the stems and attachment to the host is inhibited[
Cuscuta species are obligate parasites with only rudimentary vestiges of leaves and roots. They do not produce chlorophyll and so are totally dependant upon their host for nutrimentt[
Cuscuta reproduces by seed and when this germinates the seedling has only a few days in which to find a host before its food reserves run out and it dies. Assuming it finds a host, the seedling then attaches itself by means of suckers (called haustoria) which penetrate the host and obtain nutriment. The stem below the first point of attachment then dies and the Cuscuta plant has no nore direct contact with the soil. The Cuscuta then twines around its host, often eventually enveloping it and also spreading into suitable hosts nearby. Some Cuscuta species have fairly specific requirements for a host, but many are able to thrive on a wide range of suitable hosts. This species is most commonly found growing on plants in the families Fabaceae, Asteracae and Zygophyllaceae[
The life cycle is generally annual, though plants can be propagated by stem cuttings, and sometimes plants can persist as a perennial on a perennial host - even when all visible stems have been killed by winter frost, it is capable of regeneration from the embedded haustoria[
Cuscuta chinensis seed is one of the commonly used herbs in traditional Chinese medicine, being used especially to enhance sexual function and improve vision[
]. The main biological activities of the seed include skin and liver protection, immune regulation and neuroprotection[
The seed is antiinflammatory, antioxidant, aphrodisiac, demulcent, diaphoretic, hepatic and tonic[
]. It is decocted and used with other herbs to treat a variety of ailments[
]. In particular, it is used in the treatment of impotence, nocturnal emissions, vertigo, lumbago, leucorrhoea, frequent micturation, decreased eyesight, threatened abortion and chronic diarrhoea[
A lotion made from the stems is used in the treatment of sore heads and inflamed eyes[
The seed has been shown to have a beneficial effect in the treatment of osteoporosis. In vivo and in vitro experiments indicate that the bioactive compounds of the seed that appear to be effective against osteoporosis are kaempferol, hyperoside, and campesterol[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn, by lodging it among the stems of a host plant[
Seed - it needs to be sown close to a suitable host. Seed requires a minimum of 10°c to germinate, optimal germination is around 20 - 30°c, Some seed has a hard seed coat and will not germinate until this has gradually worn away, a process that can take a year or more[
]. Stem fragments - which can be detached and distributed intentionally or otherwise by humans, other animals or machinery - can produce new haustoria and attach themselves to a new host[