September 18, 2013


In years past, I've seen an orange plant-thing growing on other plants. I call it a "plant-thing" because it has no leaves. It just looks like threads wound around the stems of the ragweed in my pasture.

This year, perhaps because of the high amount of rainfall we've received, there is a lot more of this thing. I looked it up, and found that it is called dodder. Dodder is a parasitic plant with no leaves or roots of its own. (Mistletoe is a parasitic plant but has leaves.) Dodder looks like matted plastic or nylon threads, entwined over the host plant like an orange net. It doesn't even produce its own chlorophyll, but is completely dependent on the host plant.

The "roots" - actually small appendages - are sent into the vascular system of the host plant to extract its carbohydrates. Simply pulling the dodder threads off won't eradicate the parasite; any stem sections left behind in or on the host plant will continue to grow anew. It doesn't attack grasses, but any broadleaf plant or weed is vulnerable. Dodder is often found on ornamental shrubs or plants in yards. Alfalfa and clover are often affected.

Not knowing before what it was, I just marveled at its unusual appearance. Now I know I need to get out there and pull up the host plants with the dodder attached; it's growing in the horses' pasture on weeds that should be pulled out anyway. I have just a few spots where dodder grows. There are two opinions on how to handle the removed material: burn it or dispose in the trash pickup. Since we don't have trash pickup, I guess I will need to burn the "evidence".

Dodder has small white or yellow flowers that develop small seeds that will make the problem even worse in the future. I've never even noticed the flowers in the past, but sure enough, here they are.

I hope I'm not the only person who takes a photo like this and then examines her fingernails to make sure they were clean!

Ideally it needs to be eradicated before the plants flower and form seeds; obviously these have flowered so I'd better get busy before the seeds fall.

Have you ever seen dodder before?

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  1. I've never seen dodder before. It is peculiar. Your comment about checking if your nails were clean cracked me up. I'll be so focused on the "subject" of a photo that I completely forget to look at everything else when taking it. Then later I look at them and am horrified of who knows what in the background...LOL.

  2. :^)

    I'm better about checking the background, but my fingernails are always a source of concern. It's amazing how fast they attract barnyard dirt! lol. I'm always glad to provide amusement!

  3. I have, in fact, seen the stuff - even the tiny flowers, but, like you, never knew it was such a blight! I always thought the tiny flowers & curly vines were just kinda... Whimsical. ~ head desk ~ I am far too much a sucker for a bit of whimsy. That lil bugger requires a more jaded view. Thank you for sharing this info!

  4. Yes, I just thought it was cool-looking. But now I can see that the patch will grow and grow, and can take over a pasture if left to its own devices. Ideally I need to eradicate the ragweed it's growing on too.

  5. I've never heard of it or seen it. It's beautiful though! I wonder if it could be dried and used in floral arrangements or crafts?

    Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

  6. That never crossed my mind, Kathy, but I might give it a try just to see if it can be done. Thanks for visiting!


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