What is dodder?

(Cuscuta species)

Dooder flower

Dodder Flower
copyright: Tim Rudman

Dodders are parasitic plants in the genus Cuscuta. There are several introduced dodders which are potential weeds in Tasmania. There is also a rare and endangered native dodder, C. tasmanica, which occurs on the fringes of salt marshes and is not a weed.

Dodder is a serious weed of lucerne, clover and many other agricultural crops.

The entire dodder genus Cuscuta is a declared weed in Tasmania; however the native Tasmanian species D. tasmanica is excluded from this declaration. The importation, sale and distribution of declared dodder are prohibited in Tasmania.

The legal responsibilities of landholders and other stakeholders in dealing with African boxthorn are laid out in the Statutory Management Plan for Dodder.

  Dodder Weed Management Plan   (218Kb)

How to identify dodder

  • Dodders are twining, parasitic herbs with thread-like and apparently leaf-less stems. Dodders have no roots and grow as a tangled mass attached to the host plant by small suckers which penetrate and suck nutrients out of the host. Dodder stems range in colour from green or pink to golden yellow, and the flowers are small, bell-shaped and occur in clusters.
  • Seeds germinate mainly in spring. Seedlings have no roots and soon die unless the seedling can make contact with a host plant. The twining stems then grow rapidly over the host plant. Flowering starts at a young age and continues for several months. Plants as young as three weeks old may carry seed, and very large quantities of seed can accumulate on a large dodder plant. Seeds can remain dormant in the soil for at least 5 years.

Dodder in Tasmania

The distribution of dodders in Tasmania is limited (see map). Cuscuta suaveolens was found in a red clover seed-crop at Forth but has since been eradicated. Another dodder (Cuscuta epithymum or C. campestris) has been recorded in the south of Tasmania.

What is the legal status of dodder in your area?

The legal responsibilities of landholders and other stakeholders in dealing with dodder are laid out in the Statutory Management Plan for Dodder.

Use Table 1 (Zone A municipalities) in the Statutory Management Plan for Dodder to find out whether this weed occurs in your municipality.

  Dodder Weed Management Plan   (218Kb)

Detailed management and control guidelines for dodder can be found in the Dodder Control Guide. For further information see DPIPWE's Weed Links and Resources.

See also

Dodder Control Guide
Weed Links and Resources

Other useful links

Pest Genie

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