En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Correct spelling of Passiflora caerulea
August 07, 2007 - What is correct, passiflora coerulea or caerulea ?
view the full question and answer

Comments on article in Austin paper
January 22, 2012 - Why can't we comment on your piece in the Statesman? It says no comments possible at the bottom.
view the full question and answer

Use of the word annual
May 27, 2015 - Why is the word 'annual' used to describe plants with one grow season, when in all other cases it's used to describe things that reoccur year after year? i.e. Events, celebration, salary?
view the full question and answer

History of hybrid Hibiscus Davis Creek from Cary NC
August 22, 2010 - Re: Hibiscus Davis Creek. Can you tell me this hybrid's history? H. coccineus H. militaris perhaps?
view the full question and answer

Is there a flower that blooms only once in seven years?
December 17, 2008 - Just wanted to know if there exists a flower that blooms only once in seven years? Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center