Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Dodder Invasion

Back home in North Carolina, I was used to seeing infestations of dodder by the side of the road. I was rather fascinated by it because it looks more like some kid went nuts with a can of Silly String than a plant.

This summer I was amazed to see it in Utah. I hadn't realized it could grow in this arid climate.So I looked it up on the USDA web site.

It's nastier stuff than I realized, and more widespread. It grows in every state except Alaska.

This infestation is less than a mile from my house.

Believe it or not, dodder is a vascular plant, Since it lives entirely as a parasite, it doesn't need to have leaves to photosynthesize, nor chlorophyll. It doesn't need roots once it gets it's vicious little holdfasts into its victim plant. So all dodder is is vining, twining, strangling stems and flowers to make more dodder. As far as I know, it doesn't do anyone or anything any good.

What can you do about it?

Tear out every speck of it you find, bag it and throw it away. It's a good idea to destroy the plant it was parasitizing too. Even if it does strangle bindweed.


Anonymous said...

That is interesting. I have never heard of it nor have I ever seen it before. Thanks for the update. KC

Kate said...

Fabulous photo of that thing strangling the seed making capabilities of a weed I truly despise. Though, now I don't know where to rank the two of them in my 10 most wanted.

By the way... I'd still like to publish this as a guest article on my lonesome little blog.

Wunx~ said...

Hey KC, look along 21 South between State Street and about 20 East -- there are quite a few patches of it in various yards.

Kate -- I would be honored.

bioephemera said...

You've been tagged!

AlisonH said...

My first glimpse of it was on the late Ruth Schooley's twistedspinster blog, where she shows the bright yellow dyes she made from the stuff.

Anonymous said...

I just spent an hour trimming dodder out of my russian sage, which was only planted a month ago. I think it may have come with the plant, since I had never seen it anywhere in my neighborhood before. I trimmed off all the parts of the plants that were infested, and now we just have to hope that was enough :)

Wunx~ said...

My fingers are crossed for you.