Attack of the Parasitic Plant! – Dodder
Strictly parasitic in nature, the dodder puts in very little efforts to make its own food
Dodder (Cuscata sp.)
When it comes to plant life, most peoples will derive it as boring and uninteresting. This is because they are in a completely different timeline from us. In fact, plants have to undergo similar challenges like all animals do as well as adopting different strategies of life to survive.
One such strategy is parasitism and very few plants demonstrate it more clearly than the dodder. The dodder is a vine like climbing flowering plant (Angiosperms ). They are very common in Malaysia but seldom being noticed due to the fact that they are often assumed as part of their host plant, or as common climbing plants.
Strictly parasitic in nature, the dodder puts in very little efforts to make its own food. It grows no leaves at all but tiny scale like protrusion that serves little photosynthetic purposes. The stems of the plant consist very little or no chlorophyll but instead, depend on their host plant to supply their needs. Dodders do produce small flowers and fruits to which attracts animals to feed on and then disperse seeds. The seeds of certain species are harvested in China to be used as traditional medicine.
The seeds are generally small and germinate on the ground; young seedlings will then grow by using the stored nutrients from the seeds and then find a suitable host to latch on to, repeating the cycle all over again. However, if the seedling could not find a host within a few days, it will die.
Dodders are considered damaging to agriculture as it severely hampers the productivity of their host plant.
Ways to find them
Look out for unusual vine like growth on trees and scrubs, dodders are typically not very green in colour and can range from being yellowish to brownish. Besides that, they also d not have leaves, making them rather easy to distinguish from other climbing plants.