Cuscuta anguina Edgew.
Cuscuta elatior Choisy
Cuscuta hookeri Sweet
Cuscuta macrantha G.Don
Cuscuta megalantha Steud.
Cuscuta pentandra B.Heyne ex Engelm.
Cuscuta verrucosa Sweet
Kadurias reflexa (Roxb.) Raf.
Monogynella reflexa (Roxb.) Holub
Common Name: Dodder
Cuscuta reflexa is a 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. Plants can be very vigorous, sometimes growing in dense masses, covering whole treecrowns, or covering lower vegetation like a net[
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.
Asia - Himalayas from Afghanistan to eastern China, south through India and Indochina to Indonesia (Java).
Parasitic on Desmodium spp, Rubus spp and Viburnum spp at elevations from 1,700 - 2,900 metres in Kashmir[
]. It is also found on Zizyphus jujube and Vitex negundo and has been known to kill these plants[
Cuscuta reflexa is found from the temperate zone of the Himalayas to the tropics of Indonesia.
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 seeds are alterative, anthelmintic and carminative[
]. They are used in the treatment of bilious disorders[
The stems are used in the treatment of bilious disorders[
The whole plant is purgative[
]. It is used internally in treating protracted fevers and externally in the treatment of body pains and itchy skin[
]. The plant is employed in Ayurvedic medicine to treat difficulty in urinating, jaundice, muscle pain and coughs[
]. The juice of the plant, mixed with the juice of Saccharum officinarum, is used in the treatment of jaundice[
The analysis of the plant differs according to the host it is growing on[
]. The report does not say if this makes a difference to its medicinal properties[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn, by lodging it among the stems of a host plant that is being grown in a pot in the greenhouse[
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[