Cuscuta desertorum Mart. ex Engelm.
Cuscuta fasciculata Yunck.
Grammica umbellata (Kunth) Hadac & Chrtek
Cuscuta umbellata 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.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
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.
Americas - Colorado, south to southern Mexico; Florida and through the Caribbean to Trinidad; Panama,Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas, NE Brazil
Parasitic on Polygala spp, Atriplex spp, Suaeda spp, Alternanthera spp, Amaranthus spp and Euphorbia spp in N. Arizona. Grasslands, areas of halophilic vegetation, by lakes etc; at elevations from 1,750 - 2,400 metres[
Cuscuta umbellata is found from the warm temperate zone of southwestern N. America to the tropics of the Caribbean and northern S. America.
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[
Seed. Parched and ground into a meal[
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[