Cuscuta acuminata Pomel
Cuscuta acutiflora Rota
Cuscuta alba C.Presl
Cuscuta alpicola Brügger
Cuscuta alpina Kotschy ex Choisy
Cuscuta aragonensis Sennen
Cuscuta barbuvea (Brot.) Samp.
Cuscuta calliopes Engelm.
Cuscuta campanulata Stokes
Cuscuta coriariae Sennen & Pau
Cuscuta epithymiphyta St.-Lag.
Cuscuta ericae Sennen
Cuscuta gracilior Rouy
Cuscuta gussonii Gasp. ex Engelm.
Cuscuta hygrogenes Gand.
Cuscuta kotschyi Des Moul.
Cuscuta microcephala Welw. ex Des Moul.
Cuscuta minor Gray
Cuscuta muelleri Strail
Cuscuta planiflora W.D.J.Koch
Cuscuta ruficaulis Gand.
Cuscuta sarothamni Brügger
Cuscuta scabrella (Engelm.) Trab.
Cuscuta stenantha Trab.
Cuscuta stenoloba Bornm. & Schwarz
Cuscuta subtincta Gand.
Cuscuta subulata Tineo
Cuscuta trifolii Bab.
Cuscuta ulicis Godr.
Cuscuta zizyphi-loti Sennen
Epithymum cuscutoides Opiz
Lepimenes epithymum (L.) Raf.
Common Name: Lesser Dodder
Cuscuta epythymum is an annual climbing plant with slender stems that twine into the surrounding vegetation for support. The plant is a total parasite and does not produce chlorophyll, instead obtaining nutrients from a host plant by means of suckers[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine.
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.
Eurasia - throughout Europe and east to western Siberia, western China and Iran; N. Africa - Morocco to Libya
Parasitic on heather and gorse[
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[
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[
The flowers emit a remarkably sweet perfume that is especially pronounced towards evening[
Lesser dodder is considered to be a valuable though little used herbal remedy that supports the liver, being used for problems affecting the liver and gallbladder[
The whole plant is antibilious, appetizer, carminative, cholagogue, mildly diuretic, hepatic, laxative and antiscorbutic[
]. A decoction of the stems is used in the treatment of urinary complaints, kidney, spleen and liver disorders, jaundice, sciatica and scorbutic complaints[
]. It also has a reputation as an anticancer agent and as a specific for gout[
The plant should not be used by anyone suffering from haemorrhoids[
A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant[
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[