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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - March 14, 2004

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Strangling Bluebonnets
Answered by: Sage Kawecki

QUESTION:

I have some Bluebonnets that are being strangled by some strange rope-like plant. What’s going on here?

ANSWER:

The yellow-orange rope-like plant is Dodder, a parasitic plant that uses the Bluebonnet as a host. Eventually, it will kill its host. Since Dodder seeds can lie dormant in the ground, it is best to cut the host plants to the ground before the Dodder flowers and burn the material once dried. Contact herbicide treatment can also be used, although it won’t treat mature Dodder seed. If you have a particularly large or intense Dodder infestation, you might consider growing other wildflowers other than legumes for the next five years.
 

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