Common dodder

Common dodder

Cuscuta campestris (Convolvulaceae)

Common Name:

Common dodder

Scientific Name:

Cuscuta campestris (Convolvulaceae)

Alternative common names:

Dodder; gewone dodder (Afrikaans); umankunkunku; unyendenyende (isiZulu)


Slender, leafless, parasitic plants with yellowish or whitish, twining stems up to 2m high and forming dense patches up to 6m across. No leaves. Small clusters of whitish flowers up to 3mm long appear from November to April. Greenish-yellow fruits occur intermittently along the stringy vines. This plant invades a wide range of habitats, especially river banks, other moist sites and irrigated crop lands

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

North America

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

Existing legislation: CARA 2002 - Category 1 NEMBA - Category 1b

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Throughout much of South Africa

How does it spread?

It is dispersed by seeds and pieces carried by water or when the weed is harvested

Why is it a problem?

Common dodder smothers and parasitises other plants of economic importance in agricultural croplands, particularly lucerne

What does it look like?

General description: Slender, leafless, parasitic herb with yellow or whitish, twining stems up to 2m high and forming dense patches up to 6m across.
Leaves: Has no leaves, but rather stringy spiralling vines.
Flowers: Compact, globose clusters as opposed to lucerne dodder (C. suaveolens) which has larger flowers.
Fruit/Seeds: Produces greenish-yellow fruits approximately 3mm long.

Does the plant have any uses?

None, this is a parasitic weed

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