En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Tuesday - March 13, 2012

From: Kerrville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: General Botany
Title: Are Cuscuta spp. (dodders) in Cuscutaceae or Convolvulaceae?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

USDA plant database has the species Cuscuta in the CUSCUTACEAE FAMILY; you have it in the CONVOLVULACEAE FAMILY. Which is correct? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Our Native Plant Database shows all but one of the 13 species in the Genus Cuscuta (dodders) included in our Native Plant Database as being in the Family Cuscutaceae.  There is one, however, Cuscuta cuspidata (Angel hair), that is, at present, mistakenly shown in our database as being in the Family Convolvulaceae.

There is some controversy about which family the Genus Cuscuta belongs in.  Some botanists have it in the Family Cuscutaceae and some would put it in the Family Convolvulaceae.  Our Native Plant Database follows the nomenclature used by the USDA Plants Database that has all the Cuscuta in the Family Cuscutaceae. The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), however, lists all  Cuscuta spp. under the Family Convolvulaceae.  I found this statement under the entry for Cuscutaceae in Shinners and Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas, page 572:

"Related to the Convolvulaceae and sometimes treated as a monogeneric tribe in that family; however, Cuscutaceae can be readily distinguished by their parasitic habit, absence of chlorophyll and lack of contact with the soil after parasitizing a host..."

You can read more about the choice of Cuscutaceae or Convolvulaceae in a 1999 lecture by James L. Reveal from the Norton-Brown Herbarium, University of Maryland.

Thank you for pointing out this discrepancy in our Native Plant Database.   It will be corrected.

 

More General Botany Questions

Oils/paraffins in sea oats
September 04, 2010 - Do Sea Oats produce oils/paraffins?
view the full question and answer

Appearance of plants
April 14, 2009 - What is plants appearance?
view the full question and answer

Source for records of Pleistocene flora of Central Texas
December 16, 2013 - Part of your answer to a question from October 12, 2010 is "..moreover, the evidence goes even further back than the 1800s. Studies of Pleistocene deposits from Central Texas showed ancestral cedar p...
view the full question and answer

Petals on Black eyed Susans not developing from Austin
September 04, 2012 - I just read Barbara Medfords response to undeveloped petals on perennial black eyed susans and was disappointed not to find a better explanation. I have had the exact same thing happen to mine, and I...
view the full question and answer

Books on Lilies
August 27, 2006 - Dear Sir, I am looking for a book covering the Lily Family as a whole, i.e., it should preferably also discuss other Genera than Lilium only. I am especially interested in Lily members occurring in t...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center