General information

Dodder parasite plant: types, description, control measures

Dodder is the most dangerous representative of parasitic weeds, which belongs to the type of quarantine weeds. The parasite exists only at the expense of other plants and nothing else.

Outwardly, the plant resembles a long lace, the stem is either smooth red, yellow or green-yellow, or bumpy and colorless, the root and leaves are missing.

The plant is completely covered with small white, pink or light green flowers (see photo).


Dodder fruits resemble a box. How many seeds can be found in the boxes? Usually the fruit contains four, rarely two seeds of irregular shape.

Seeds are very tenacious, they can germinate, having lain for more than 5 years in the ground, and even after passing through the digestive tract of animals.

Important! The dodder masks its seeds under the seeds of the victim, thus you risk to plant this weed-parasite together with the desired plant in the spring with your own hands.

With the help of suckers, which are formed in places of contact with his victim, dodder attaches and deeply penetrates it, disrupting the metabolism of its donor, causing the plant to weaken, lag behind in development and growth, and as a result dies. Parasitizing in this way on plants, dodder quickly spreads, conquering large territories.

Information: peculiar suckers, due to which the weed is fixed on the victim, are called “haustories”. They are peculiar dodder roots that take their vitality from the affected plant.

Dodder habitat

Tropical forests of Africa and America. It was from there that the plant spread almost everywhere, adapting to the climatic conditions of the new territories.

To date, more than 250 species of dodder have been identified, which differ from each other in structure, flower and preferred cultures. Where does this weed grow in Russia? In our country, more than 30 varieties of dodder found in the middle part of Russia, Siberia and the Far East have been identified.

Dodder is rapidly spreading, covering entire massifs of cultures. One seed can strike a plot with a radius of up to 3 square meters.

Dodder parasitizes melons, fodder legumes, industrial, ornamental and vegetable crops, vineyards, berries, annuals and perennial grasses, shrubs, trees. On the roadsides and in the fields you can notice the yellowish and reddish threads, densely braiding plants.

Clover and other fodder crops are mainly exposed to harmful effects. Also, this parasitic plant often affects fruit crops, vegetables and even flowers.

In addition, dodder poses a threat to animals, because it contains poisonous alkaloids. Poisons can cause severe poisoning and even death of livestock, especially if hay from infected plants is used for feed.

Affected herbs lose their nutritional properties, dry out and grow moldy. The plant is a carrier of viral infections.

Dodder description

A native of Africa and tropical America, a dodder-parasite plant has become widely spread all over the world, easily adapting to new conditions and new plants, it is mercilessly parasitizing on them.

Characterized by high fecundity and great vitality, dodder is thin and thick-stalked, and occurs in nature in more than 100 species.

It is considered the most harmful plant parasite dodder field, clover, hop, flax. Deprived of leaves and roots, it has a body of a different shade (from yellowish to reddish). It feeds on a climbing parasite at the expense of the host plant, to which it is attached with the help of peculiar suckers (haustoria). The formation of such suckers, which penetrate deep into the tissue of the plant and suck nutrients from it, occurs in places of contact with the “future victim”. The plant that has become a hostage of dodder weakens, is delayed in growth and development due to the sucking of nutrients by the weed.

Harm dodder for cultivated plants

The dodder grows at a rapid pace, the weed covers entire arrays of cultivated plants, causing a decrease in product quality, a deterioration in winter-hardiness and even a loss of the future crop.

Dodder is not capricious regarding the choice of "future victim" and can live next to any garden and garden crops, do not hesitate to even this weed with flowers. Grass mown on hay affected by dodder, badly dry, lose their nutritional value, can cause the disease of the animal, in some cases - his death.

After the dodder parasite plant clings to a suitable plant, its connection with the soil is broken, and the weed is fully supported by the natural object it has chosen. One weedy specimen is capable of forming a lesion with a diameter of up to 6 square meters. meters The vegetative body of the dodder is characterized by high internal pressure, which allows plant fragments not to fade for a long time. Dodder mainly develops in the upper and middle parts of plants, enveloping them with threadlike, branching, pale yellow stems.

The stem of the dodder is covered with a large number of small flowers collected in spherical, glomerular or spicate inflorescences. The fruit is a box with 2 or 4 seeds. And the latter are so similar with the seeds of cultivated plants that they are often mistaken for such. In particular, dodder seeds are similar to clover seeds, only with close inspection they can be distinguished. The masking of the seeds of dodder under the seed of cultivated plants is the result of parasitic adaptation, which complicates the use of conventional methods of separating the seeds from each other. Dodder seeds, characterized by a cellular surface, are mixed with magnetic powder and separated from the seeds of cultivated plants with the help of electromagnets. Powder does not linger on their smooth surface.

Dodder spread

Dodder spread often occurs with seeds of poorly cleaned cultivated plants. Also, its carriers are animals, wind, cars, water, if livestock were fed infested with dodder plants, the latter gets into the fields with manure of these animals. Dodder can also be distributed with packaging or planting material. The source of infection can be weeds and wild plant species infected with this parasite. Germination of dodder seeds occurs on the 5-15th day after sowing, and at first it exists at the expense of its own forces. If the dodder does not meet a suitable "breadwinner", it dies.

Dodder - parasitic plant: control measures

It is very difficult to get rid of the dodder, since the action of chemicals does not cause it any harm. You can destroy this weed only with the plant itself. The preventive measures aimed at preventing the appearance of such a malicious natural parasite are effective.

Sowing of cultivated plants is required to produce seeds cleared of dodder and in clean areas. It is necessary to carry out testing of crops in order to determine the degree of their purity, phytopathological examination and quarantine measures. For planting plants need to choose clean areas. In the areas of irrigated agriculture, weed seed germination is stimulated by provocative spring and autumn irrigation. With the appearance of dodder in crops of perennial grasses, the last before the start of flowering and seeding of dodder need to mow. Timely cutting is especially effective against the dodder of the field, 95% of the stems of which are located close to the surface of the soil, which allows for a low cut to easily remove them from the field along with hay. Effective deep digging of the soil, at 25-30 cm.

It is very important to prevent the emergence of dangerous weeds on the site, among which is a parasite dodder plant. And the fight against them when using preventive preventive measures will be minimized.

Description and photo

Dodder European or kuskut is a herbaceous plant, a parasite liana. Kuskut is completely devoid of chlorophyll and roots, its leaves are very small, resembling scales. Because of this structure, the plant can not independently obtain all the important trace elements from the soil and from the sun, so he has to find a host plant. Attached to the dodder host with special suction cups. Stems kuskuty reach a length of 1 m, with a diameter of 2.5 mm.

On the territory of our country there are many species of plants of the genus Dodder. Herbalists often do not distinguish them, for example, European dodder is often confused with thyme dodder. Moreover, even professional botanists sometimes find it difficult to distinguish one subspecies from another. Weeds often differ in stalk thickness, flower shape and color, calyx and seed shape, etc. For example, European dodder has a thicker stalk and larger inflorescences than thyme dodder.

Recent experiments by scientists have shown that dodder is capable of "smell" to capture the location of the host plant. But she is not able to "understand" whether the plant is infected with viruses or not. Therefore, if couscous clings to the host affected by a disease, the disease will spread to the parasite. Virtually any type of virus can maintain its viability in the stalks or leaves of the weed for 4 months. In the infected seeds, the viruses live for about a year, and when the dodder germinates and attaches to the host plant, it immediately affects it.

Chemical composition

In the composition of the weed there are many useful and not very chemical substances. Some of them are indispensable in the treatment of diseases of the skin, stomach, lungs, etc. However, saponins, which are toxic chemical compounds, were found in the dodder.

The main chemical compounds that make up the kuskut:

  • flavonoids (kaempferol, quercetin, etc.),
  • leucoantocins, phytosterol,
  • polysaccharides, pentosan, flavones,
  • flabofenes, phenolcarboxylic acids and their derivatives (caffeic and chlorogenic acids, cuscutin),
  • quercetin, coumarins (umbelliferon, bergenin, etc.),
  • carbohydrates, sugars, etc.
Many of the listed chemical compounds can be found in some drugs. For example, coumarins have long been isolated from plants and used in the pharmacological field of activity. Therefore, the dodder raw material has long been used by traditional healers to treat certain diseases.

Useful properties of dodder

In scientific medicine, this weed has not found its application. Earlier, in some European countries, its extracts were used as homeopathic remedies. On the territory of the former USSR, cuscuta extract could be found on the shelves of pharmacies, such a drug had a mild laxative effect. In the modern world, dodder is used in folk medicine in many countries. Seeds, roots, stems and flowers of couscous possess useful properties.

Dodder seeds have a beneficial effect on the urogenital system of men and women. Thanks to some chemical compounds in the composition, the seeds of this herb can increase the potency in men and increase the muscle tone of the reproductive system in women. Some of these chemical compounds are able to bind to the spinal center and, through it, have a positive effect on the innervated organs. In addition, dodder seeds increase the activity of cellular metabolism and improve the circulation of biochemical processes that are directly related to the myelin layer.

Find and prepare for the winter dodder root is not so simple. The fact is that the parasite creeper has a dry root as soon as it reaches a height of 3-4 cm. Therefore, you should not miss the moment and have time to collect weed roots (start harvesting in early spring).

The root system of couscous has one phenomenal property - its active substances are able to overcome skin cancer. From the roots of the weed make ointments that are applied to the skin and contribute to a quick and favorable healing.

Use in traditional medicine

Many do not know what dodder is, but this parasite plant has found wide application in traditional medicine and helps people to overcome many diseases. Below we provide several recipes based on a piece of couscous:

  1. When uterine bleeding need to prepare the infusion: 200 g of boiling water, add 20 g of dry grass, leave for 60-70 minutes. Take 1/3 cup 3 times a day.
  2. Dry stalks and weed flowers are used to treat stomach cancer. For 1/2 liters of boiled water is taken 20 grams of raw materials, aged in a water bath for about 30 minutes. Then the solution must be cooled to 20 ° C, filtered, squeeze the stems and flowers and add water to the level of 0.5 liters. Store decoction in a dark dry place in a tightly closed jar. Drink 60-70 g 3 times a day for an hour before eating. The course of treatment should last 30 days, after which you need to take a break for 10 days.
  3. In the fight against skin cancer using an ointment from the roots of kuskut and natural cow oil. Take the oil and weed roots in equal proportions, mix everything and put in storage in the refrigerator. Apply to the affected skin 2-3 times a day.
  4. Dodder flowers make tincture, which is an excellent hemostatic agent and is used for pneumonia. To prepare take a teaspoon of dried weed flowers and a glass of boiling water, insist for 60-80 minutes. Take 2 tbsp. l 3 times a day 40 minutes before meals.

Contraindications and side effects

As mentioned above, this type of weed contains in its composition poisonous substances (saponins, konvolvulin and kustanin), so you need to use it for medical purposes with extreme caution. Before taking any tinctures or decoctions inside, you should consult with your doctor. Use for the treatment of any form of folk preparations on the basis of dodder is prohibited: with diabetes, third-degree obesity, peptic ulcer (only after consulting a doctor).

There are data that indicate weed poisoning of farm animals. Fresh herb is slightly toxic, but as soon as it dries, its toxicity level increases several times. According to experienced botanists, dry dodder in large doses can be fatal. The fact is that in small dosages the above toxic compounds are curative, but as soon as the dosage is exceeded several times, the general intoxication of the body begins. The main side effects can be: dizziness, nausea, pain in the stomach, severe diarrhea, etc. However, at first glance, this is contrary to the fact that kuskuta can treat diarrhea. That's right, in optimal dosages, convolvulin improves the function of the stomach and intestines and cures diarrhea, but if the dosage is exceeded, severe damage to the blood vessels of the gastrointestinal tract may occur. It should be noted that during pregnancy it is fraught with miscarriage.

From the above, we can conclude: the use of raw couscous is necessary only in optimal dosages, and for this you need to consult a doctor. If the dosage is exceeded, treatment with animal oils and starches is indicated.

Weed control

It is best to fight with the parasite liana through preventive measures, since if the dodder has already sprouted and “devoured” your crops, then it will be much more difficult to fight it (sometimes the host plant cannot be saved). Weed seeds are able to germinate from great depths and remain in the soil for 5-6 years, so it will be difficult to completely eradicate the garden dodder. Experts propose to stimulate the growth of parasite creeper in the autumn-spring period through abundant irrigation. When the weed rises and does not find host plants near itself, it will die without using any mechanical tricks. However, for confidence all shoots are better to burn. Deep plowing is not always an effective method of struggle. Americans use gas flame throwers to control weeds, but this method is not used for unknown reasons in our country. It is necessary to take into account the fact that the dodder is capable of infecting the seeds of agricultural plants, and when they are planted the following year, the weed will sprout along with vegetable or melon crops. In view of this, it is better not to collect seeds from infected fields, but to destroy them.

Fighting dodder through agrotechnical techniques is not always easy and effective. Огородники и профессиональные агрономы когда-то пытались уничтожать сорняк при помощи фунгицидов, но такие препараты не оказали никакой эффективности. Так как растение устойчиво ко многим химическим препаратам, уничтожить его можно лишь вместе со всеми посевами при помощи гербицидов.To prevent this, fight with dodder need even before planting crops.

It is recommended to treat contaminated soil with a mixture of ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate in late autumn. Ethylhexyl salts can also be added to the solution. Soil treatment should be carried out after the weed sprouting, and to stimulate growth it is necessary to apply abundant watering (besides, wet soil weakens the piece). But if the treatment is delayed until the first flowers appear, even herbicides will not help to destroy the weed. Among the most popular herbicides are the following: "Liquid", "Reiter", "Stomp", "Gezagard", etc.

As you can see, dodder has both positive and negative features. It can help in the treatment of many diseases, but at the same time is a dangerous pest of crops. Some are trying to grow it to collect raw materials, the second - to destroy. But every gardener should have an idea of ​​what a dodder is.