Know your alien invasive plant: Common Dodder

A Common Dodder or Cuscuta campestris (Convolvulaceae) alien invasive plant. PHOTO: http://keys.lucidcentral.org

THIS week, Hillcrest Conservancy takes a look at the Common Dodder as part of its series of articles on alien invasive plants to help the community to identify and eradicate them from their gardens.

The Common Dodder’s scientific name is Cuscuta campestris (Convolvulaceae) but its is also known as Dodder, gewone dodder (Afrikaans), umankunkunku and unyendenyende (isiZulu).

The Common Dodder is the KZN sister plant to a fringed Dodder which occurs mostly in the Gauteng province. This plant was recently seen for the first time in the Hillcrest area growing on the fence of the Springside Nature Reserve.

Description: It is a slender, leafless, parasitic plant with yellowish or whitish, twining stems up to two metres high and forming dense patches up to six metres across. It can resemble yellow candy floss. It’s small clusters of whitish flowers up to 3mm long appear from November to April. Greenish-yellow fruits occur intermittently along the stringy vines.

Where does this species come from? North America.

Where in SA is it a problem? This plant is a problem throughout much of South Africa

What is its invasive status in South Africa? NEMBA – Category 1b which means it needs to be removed to avoid prosecution.

Why is it a problem? This plant invades a wide range of habitats, especially river banks, other moist sites and irrigated crop lands. Once established it is hard to get rid of as there is no herbicide registered for its removal. It will also reduce the value of farmers crops.

How does it spread? It is dispersed by seeds and pieces carried by water or when the weed is harvested much like it’s Gauteng sister, fringed Dodder.

Contact Ian Pattrick on 079 909 5458 or Hillcrest Conservancy chairman, George Victor, on 073 901 3902 or e-mail georgevic@telkomsa.net

 

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