Cuscuta gronovii Willd. ex J.A. Schultes

common dodder

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Common dodder is a parasitic plant that initially has normal roots as it twines up the sides of its host, but then sends out suckers that penetrate the host's tissues. As dodder gets all its nutrient from the host plant, its roots eventually die. Dodder gets its species name (gronovii) from the Dutch botanist Jan Frederk Gronovius, the teacher of Linnaeus (inventor of modern systematics).

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), meadows and fields, shores of rivers or lakes, shrublands or thickets, wetland margins (edges of wetlands)

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Flower petal color
white
Leaf type
  • NA
  • the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaf arrangement
alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
  • NA
  • the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
Flower symmetry
there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
Number of sepals, petals or tepals
there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
Fusion of sepals and petals
the petals or the sepals are fused into a cup or tube
Stamen number
5
Fruit type (general)
  • the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
  • the fruit is dry but does not split open when ripe
Fruit length
2.5–3.5 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Bulbils
    the plant does not appear to have bulbils
    Bulblets replace flowers
    there are no bulblets where the flowers are located
  • Flowers
    Anther opening
    the anthers have narrow slits or furrows that run lengthwise along the anthers
    Anther spurs
    the anthers do not have spurs on them
    Calyx symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the calyx (the calyx is radially symmetrical)
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused to one another
    Cleistogamous flowers
    there are no cleistogamous flowers on the plan
    Corolla palate
    no
    Corona lobe length
    0 mm
    Epicalyx
    the flower does not have an epicalyx
    Epicalyx number of parts
    0
    Filament surface
    the filament is smooth, with no hairs or scales
    Flower description
    the flower has a superior ovary, and lacks a hypanthium
    Flower length
    3–4 mm
    Flower petal color
    white
    Flower reproductive parts
    the flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Flowers sunken into stem
    no
    Form of style
    the flower has two or more completely separate styles
    Fused stamen clusters
    NA
    Fusion of sepals and petals
    the petals or the sepals are fused into a cup or tube
    Horns in hoods (Asclepias)
    NA
    Hypanthium
    the flower does not have a hypanthium
    Hypanthium length
    0 mm
    Inflorescence one-sided
    the flowers are arrayed in a spiral around the inflorescence axis or branches, or occur singly, or in several ranks
    Inner tepals (Rumex)
    NA
    Interior flower disk
    the flower has an interior disc
    Marks on petals
    there are no noticeable marks on the petals
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of branches in umbel
    0
    Number of carpels
    2
    Number of pistils
    1
    Number of sepals, petals or tepals
    there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    Number of styles
    2
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Perianth shape
    the perianth is campanulate (bell-shaped, with a tube about as long as wide, flaring at the mouth)
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal and sepal colors
    white
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal folding in bud
    the petals in bud are arranged in a cycle with edges overlapping like roof shingles (imbricate)
    Petal folds or pleats
    the petals of the flower do not have folds or plaits
    Petal glandular dots or scales
    yes
    Petal hairs (Viola)
    NA
    Petal length
    3–3.5 mm
    Petal length relative to sepals
    the petals are longer than the sepals
    Petal number
    5
    Petal shape
    the petal outline is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    Petal tip shape
    the petal tip is obtuse (bluntly pointed)
    Petal tips (Cuscuta)
    the tips of the petals stand up straight or slant outwards
    Raceme attachment (Veronica)
    NA
    Reproductive system
    all the flowers have both carpels and stamens (synoecious)
    Scales inside corolla
    no
    Sepal and petal color
    the sepals are different from the petals
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals are green or brown, and leaf-like in texture
    Sepal appendages
    the sepals do not have appendages on them
    Sepal appendages (Oenothera)
    NA
    Sepal color
    • green to brown
    • white
    Sepal number
    5
    Sepal shape
    the sepal outline is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    Sepal tip shape
    the sepal tip is obtuse (is bluntly pointed)
    Sepal uniformity
    all the sepals are about the same size
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are fused to each other (not other flower parts), at least near their bases
    Stamen attachment
    the stamens are attached at or near the bases of the petals or tepals
    Stamen number
    5
    Stamen position relative to petals
    the stamens are lined up with the sepals
    Stamen relative length
    anything
    Staminodes
    there are no staminodes on the flower
    Style length
    1–1.5 mm
    Style petal-like
    the styles are not petal-like
    Umbel flower reproductive parts
    NA
    Upper lip of bilabiate corolla
    NA
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene relative orientation
    NA
    Achene shape
    NA
    Achene surface (Polygonum)
    NA
    Achene type
    NA
    Berry color
    NA
    Capsule color (Viola)
    NA
    Capsule ribs
    the capsule has no prominent ribs or wings
    Capsule splitting
    NA
    Fruit (pyxis) dehiscence
    • NA
    • the pyxis bursts open or shatters without a clear seam
    Fruit features (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Fruit length
    2.5–3.5 mm
    Fruit locules
    two
    Fruit shape
    • the fruit is another shape than those described
    • the fruit is ovoid (egg-shaped)
    Fruit type (general)
    • the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
    • the fruit is dry but does not split open when ripe
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a capsule (splits along two or more seams, apical teeth or pores when dry, to release two or more seeds)
    Fruit width
    2.5–4 mm
    Legumes (Fabaceae)
    NA
    Mericarp length
    0 mm
    Mericarp segment shape (Desmodium)
    NA
    Other markings on berry
    NA
    Ovary stipe
    the ovary or fruit does not have a stipe
    Placenta arrangement
    the plant has axile placentation, in which the ovules are attached where the septa of a compound ovary are united, usually on the central axis, or to the septa themselves
    Rows of seeds in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit compression
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit segments
    0
    Seed length
    0.9–2.2 mm
    Seed number
    4
    Seed surface
    the seed is hairless
    Septum in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Wings on fruit
    the fruit does not have wings on it
    prickles on fruits
    the fruits do not have thorn-like defensive structures
  • Glands or sap
    Glands on leaf blade
    • NA
    • the leaf blades do not have glandular dots or scales
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
    Sap color
    the sap is clear
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant is an herb (it has self-supporting stems)
    Horizontal rooting stem
    the plant does not have stolons
    Lifespan
    the plant lives only a single year or less
    Parasitism
    the plant is parasitic on other plants (partially or completely dependent on other plants to supply nutrients)
    Plant color
    the plant lacks green pigments, even on the leaves or young stems
    Plants darken when dry
    no
    Spines on plant
    the plant has no spines
    Underground organs
    there are only slender roots on the plant
  • Leaves
    Bracteole number (Apiaceae)
    0
    Bracts in plantain (Plantago)
    NA
    Final leaf segment length (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Final leaf segment length to width ratio (compound lvs only)
    0
    Final leaf segment width (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Hooked hairs on underside of leaf
    no
    Inflated hairs on leaf
    the leaf blade does not have inflated hairs on it
    Leaf arrangement
    alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Leaf blade bloom
    the underside of the leaf has no noticeable bloom
    Leaf blade edges
    • NA
    • the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
    Leaf blade length
    At least 2 mm
    Leaf blade primary vein pattern
    the secondary veins branch off at intervals from the primary vein
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is lanceolate (lance-shaped; widest below the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is linear (very narrow with more or less parallel sides)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    • NA
    • the upper side of the leaf blade is relatively uniform in color
    Leaf blade texture
    the leaf blade is coriaceous (has a firm, leathery texture)
    Leaf blade veins
    the leaf blade has one main vein running from the base towards the tip (it may or may not have secondary veins)
    Leaf duration
    the leaves drop off in winter (or they whither but persist on the plant)
    Leaf form
    the leaves are small and thin and lack leaf stalks
    Leaf spines
    • NA
    • there are no spines on the leaf edges
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have no leaf stalks, but attach directly to the stem
    Leaf stalk attachment to leaf
    NA
    Leaf stalk base
    NA
    Leaf teeth and lobes
    • NA
    • the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
    Leaf type
    • NA
    • the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Leaf types
    NA
    Leaflet number
    0
    Leaflet petiolules
    NA
    Leaves per node
    there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Pinnately compound leaf type
    NA
    Specific leaf type
    • NA
    • the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Stipels
    NA
    Stipule edges
    NA
    Stipule features
    NA
    Stipule fused to leaf stalk
    NA
    Stipule length
    0 mm
    Stipule shape
    NA
    Stipules
    there are no stipules on the plant
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • edges of wetlands
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
    • shores of rivers or lakes
    • shrublands or thickets
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the plant does not have much of a smell
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Branched tendrils
    NA
    Direction of stem hairs
    NA
    Flowering stem cross-section
    the flowering stem is circular, or with lots of small angles so that it is roughly circular
    Hair between stem nodes
    the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Hairs between stem nodes
    the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Hooked hairs on stem between nodes
    no
    Leaves on stem
    NA
    Length of hairs between stem nodes
    0 mm
    Stem bloom
    there is no powdery or waxy film on the stem
    Stem hair distribution
    NA
    Stem orientation
    the stems trail at the base, but may turn upwards at the tips
    Stem roughness between nodes
    the stem does not feel rough
    Stem succulence
    the stems are not succulent
    Tendril origin
    NA
    Tendrils
    the plant does not have tendrils
    Wings on stem
    the stem does not have wings on it

Wetland Status

Not classified

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present, prohibited
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present, prohibited

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. gronovii

Massachusetts
widespread (S-rank: S5)

var. latiflora

Massachusetts
unrankable (S-rank: SU)
Rhode Island
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), concern (uncertain) (code: C*)
Vermont
unrankable (S-rank: SU)

Native to North America?

Yes

Synonyms

  • Cuscuta gronovii var. latiflora Engelm.
  • Cuscuta vulgivaga Engelm
  • Grammica gronovii (Willd. ex J.A. Schultes) Hadac & Chrtek

Genus

Cuscuta

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Cuscuta gronovii Willd. ex J.A. Schultes var. gronovii is is the more common form, known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. C. gronovii var. latiflora Engelm. is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT, and is rare in some states.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

8.  Cuscuta gronovii Willd. ex J.A. Schultes N

common dodder.  8a. Cuscuta saururi Engelm.;  8b. Cuscuta vulgivaga Engelm; Grammica gronovii (Willd. ex J.A. Schultes) Hadac & Chrtek • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Parasitic on a large number of tracheophytes, including herbaceous and shrub types.

1a.  Calyx on most or all flowers ± as long as the basal, connate portion of the corolla 
(i.e., the tips of the sepals reaching the sinuses between the petals), with oblong to ovate lobes that barely overlap one another; basal, connate portion of corolla 1–1.5 mm long; 
corolla lobes ca. ½ to fully as long as long as the basal, connate portion 
 … 8a. C. gronovii var. latiflora Engelm.

1b.  Calyx ca. ½ as long as the basal, connate portion of corolla (i.e., the tips of the sepals not reaching the sinuses between the petals), with ovate to suborbicular lobes that overlap one another; basal, connate portion of corolla 1.5–2.5 mm long; corolla lobes ca. (rarely only ¼) as long as the basal, connate portion … 8b. C. gronovii var. gronovii


Variety laterifolora is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. It is less common than the typical variety and is rare in some states (e.g., ME). Variety gronovii is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. It is the most common taxon of Cuscuta in New England.