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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Cuscuta, Noxious weeds, Invasive plants

I'm doing a science fair project on dodder plant and I'm seeking information about the plant, and a source of seeds or plants for the project.


Dodder is a parasitic plant that lives on crops, ornamentals, native plants, and weeds. Because it has limited chlorophyll, it can't make enough food to support itself, and so relies on the plants it colonizes for nourishment. It belongs to the genus Cuscuta, in the family Convolvulaceae (same family as morning glory). It was formerly referred to as Grammica.

Perhaps the reason that seeds and plants are not readily available is that dodder causes great damage to the plants it parasitizes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's plant protection and quarantine office states that "products, including foods, containing whole dodder seeds (Cuscuta spp.) are prohibited entry into the United States. APHIS regulates whole dodder seeds, both as a parasitic plant pest under Title 7 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 330 and as a Federal noxious weed under Title 7 CFR, Part 360."

Here is additional information from University of California, Davis's Integrated Pest Management website. Dodder is sometimes referred to as the "Vampire Plant," as this University of Florida Extension page explains. Although your project, safe within the confines of a lab or classroom, might pose no threat, it is not legal to sell Cuscuta seeds or plants in the U.S.

Date 2017-02-16
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August 01 2017 12:36:01