DODDER, Cuscuta spp. L.
1, dodder twined on legume plant; 2, flower; 3, seed
pod; 4, seed. Annual, reproducing by seed. Dodder is a parasitic
plant without chlorophyll. It obtains its food by twining around a host
plant and sending rootlike projections into its stem. Stems are
stringlike, smooth, yellow or orange, branching extensively, forming dense
masses. Leaves absent or reduced to small bracts. Flowers
numerous, small, white with 5 lobes, borne in clusters. Seed pod
about 1/8 inch (3 mm) in diameter, with thin papery walls, containing 4
seeds. Seeds triangular in cross section, brown, with a roughened
seed coat. Found principally on clovers, alfalfa, and lespedeza,
although it can grow on many broad-leaved plants. It is difficult to remove
the seeds from clover and alfalfa seeds. A number of similar species growing
on various host plants are found in the region.