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Wednesday - September 02, 2015

From: Bainbridge, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Pests
Title: Georgia Monocots for Dodder Infested Location
Answered by: Anne Van Nest


I have a 12'x12' area where we planted carrots, and we got a surprise - dodder! Next year we planted corn - no dodder! This year we planted cosmos, and behold, we had dodder. I understand monocots are generally not dodder host plants. Which native flowering monocots would you recommend that I plant as non-host plants. I am particularly interested in yellow or orange flowering monocots. Thanks for your time and expertise.


Dodder doesn’t usually bother grasses and monocots, so this is where you should start to form your plant list. The lily family is a monocot and has many native members that are very attractive and would perform well for you in Georgia. To produce a list (there are 92) of Liliaceae family members that can be found in Georgia, go to the website and click on the Native Plant Database. Select the family Liliaceae and than narrow your search to Georgia. You can also refine your search by selecting the amount of sun, soil moisture and height, etc.  

First a little about dodder. There are 7 species of dodder that can be found in Georgia. One is Cuscuta gronovii, a climbing, parasitic vine with dense clusters of small white, bell-shaped, flowers on orange-yellow stems.

Dodder seeds germinate in soil, but the roots eventually die as the plant twines around a host plant and sends out suckers that penetrate host tissues and through which it obtains all its nourishment.  Other dodders grow exclusively on such plants as flax or clover and are significant agricultural weeds. Dozens of dodders, some from Europe, are found in North America, and most are difficult to distinguish from one another. The genus Cuscuta is often placed in the morning glory family, Convolvulaceae

 The University of Georgia has a good factsheet on Dodder. Dodder is a rootless, leafless, parasitic flowering plant. It is in the same family as morning glories (Convolvulaceae). Dodder flowers and produces seeds that can remain dormant in the soil for years before germinating. Under the right conditions, dodder seed will germinate, sending up a tendril that attaches to a suitable host plant. If no suitable host is available, the plant will die within a few days. After coming in contact with a suitable host, dodder will attach itself to the plants vascular system with a peg-like haustoria. Once attached, the root system shrivels away so that no soil contact exists. Through the haustorial attachment, dodder is able to absorb water, minerals and nutrients from the host plant. It is for this reason dodder contains no green tissues. The stem color of dodder is generally yellow to orange, but can also be shades of red or white. Flowers are small, white or pink and usually born in clusters.

Dodders can infect a wide host range of plants. The most common are in the Asteraceae family (chrysanthemums, marigolds and sunflowers), Fabaceae family (alfalfa, clovers, soybeans, and vetches), and the Ericaceae family (azaleas and rhododendrons). Little research has been performed on the host range that dodders can infect.

Remove all plants or portion of plants that have been infected by dodder. If caught early, dodder should be removed before it flowers and produces seed. To date, dodder cannot be controlled through a post emergent herbicide application, unless the host plant is killed.


From the Image Gallery

Harper's dodder
Cuscuta harperi

Fiveangled dodder
Cuscuta pentagona

Yellow colicroot
Aletris lutea

Common goldstar
Hypoxis hirsuta

Wood lily
Lilium philadelphicum

Yellow sunnybell
Schoenolirion croceum

Virginia bunchflower
Veratrum virginicum

Largeflower bellwort
Uvularia grandiflora

Yellow wakerobin
Trillium luteum

Canada lily
Lilium canadense

Turk's-cap lily
Lilium superbum

Yellow trout-lily
Erythronium americanum

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