Herbs & Plants

Dodder (Cuscuta europaea)

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Botanical Name :Cuscuta Europaea
Family: Convolvulaceae
Genus:     Cuscuta
Species: C. europaea
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Solanales

Synonyms:  Beggarweed. Hellweed. Strangle Tare. Scaldweed. Devil’s Guts.

Common Names:Dodder, Greater dodder or European dodder, Cuscuta europaea

Habitat :Cuscuta Europaea is native to  Europe. Now it can be found in Japan, Kashmir; N Africa, W Asia (including Pakistan), Europe, occasionally in North and South America.It grows in Open grassy localities, streamsides and hilly areas at elevations of 800 – 3,100 metres in China.

Cuscuta Europaea is an annual herbaceous plant.It is in flower from August to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs).
click to see the pictures
The long thin stems are yellowish or reddish. They have an inflorescence that is produced laterally along the stems, the flowers are arranged in compact glomerules with few to many flowers. The pedicels are up to 1.5 mm long. The 1.5 mm calyx is cup-shaped with 4 or 5 sepals that are triangular-ovate in shape. The 2.5-3 mm corolla is pink, with 4 or sometime 5 lobes. The corolla remains after anthesis and is often reflexed. The stamens are inserted below sinus and the filaments are longer than the anthers. The anthers are ovate-circular with very thin scales. The ovary is subglobose with 2 styles. The stigmas are divergent or curved. The 3 mm wide, rounded seed capsule, is capped by the withered corolla. Each capsule often has 4, pale brown, elliptic, seeds that are 1 mm long.

This is a parasitic species that is devoid of leaves, roots or chlorophyll and so is totally dependant upon its host. A climbing plant, it must be grown close to a host plant around which it will twine itself and which it will penetrate with suckers in order to obtain nutriment. It Britain it is found most commonly growing on the roots of stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) and hops (Humulus lupulus), whilst in China it is found mainly on plants in the families Composite, Leguminosae and Chenopodiaceae, though it can also be found on many other herbaceous plants.

The seeds germinate in the ground in the normal manner and throw up thready stems, which climb up adjoining plants and send out from their inner surfaces a number of small vesicles, which attach themselves to the bark of the plant on which they are twining. As soon as the young Dodder stems have firmly fixed themselves, the root from which they have at first drawn part of their nourishment withers away, and the Dodder, entirely losing its connection with the ground, lives completely on the sap of its ‘host,’ and participates of its nature.

Medicinal Uses:
The entire plant is used in Tibetan medicine, where it is considered to have a bitter, acrid and sweet taste with a heating potency. It is aphrodisiac, renal and a hepatic tonic, being used to increase semen, to treat pain in the wrist and limbs, vaginal/seminal discharge, polyuria, tinnitus and blurred vision.

It was not only considered useful in jaundice but also in sciatica and scorbutic complaints. Gathered fresh and applied externally after being bruised, the plant has been found efficacious in dispersing scrofulous tumours. The whole plant, of whatever species, is very bitter, and an infusion acts as a brisk purge.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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