Cassytha major Gray
Cuscuta brachystyla K.Koch
Cuscuta capillaris Edgew.
Cuscuta epicnidea Bernh.
Cuscuta epitriphyllum Bernh.
Cuscuta filiformis Lam.
Cuscuta halophila Engelm.
Cuscuta halophyta Fr.
Cuscuta hyalina Boiss. ex Engelm.
Cuscuta indica (Engelm.) Petrov ex Butkov
Cuscuta ligustri Aresch.
Cuscuta major Gilib.
Cuscuta schkuhriana Pfeiff.
Cuscuta segetum Rota
Cuscuta solani Holuby
Cuscuta tetrandra Moench
Cuscuta tetrasperma Jan ex Engelm.
Cuscuta tubulosa J.Presl & C.Presl
Cuscuta urceolata Stokes
Cuscuta urticae W.D.J.Koch & Schnizl.
Cuscuta viciae W.D.J.Koch & Schnizl.
Cuscuta vulgaris Gaterau
Cuscuta vulgaris Pers.
Cuscuta europaea 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.
Widespread through most of temperate Europe and Asia, though seemingly absent from Korea and much of the Russian Far East; N. Africa - Morocco
Open grassy localities, streamsides and hilly areas[ at elevations from 800 - 3,100 metres in China[
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. In Britain this species is found most commonly growing on the roots of stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) and hops (Humulus lupulus)[
], whilst in China it is found mainly on plants in the families Asteraceae, Fabaceae and Amaranthaceae, though it can also be found on many other herbaceous plants[
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 entire plant is used in Tibetan medicine, where it is considered to have a bitter, acrid and sweet taste with a heating potency[
]. It is aphrodisiac, renal and a hepatic tonic, being used to increase semen, to treat pain in the wrist and limbs, vaginal/seminal discharge, polyuria, tinnitus and blurred vision[
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[