The Asteridae
Family Overview - Solanales
Cuscutaceae - the Dodder Family
Diversity:  Herbaceous, non-photosynthetic parasites with no leaves and threadlike stems with a yellowish or orange cast.  A single genus with about 170 species.

Distribution:  Cuscuta is a cosmopolitan genus with a worldwide distribution. We have 20 species in the Texas flora.

Floral structure:


 androperianth 4-merous in some species
Significant features:  Similar to the Monotropaceae in that there is a clear connection to the larger Convolvulaceae and little doubt that this taxon is a highly specialized derivative.  Cuscuta is often treated within the Convolvulaceae as a subfamily.  While, floral structure is relevent for species determination, recognition of the family is fairly straightforward.  As opposed to taxa of the Monotropaceae, Cuscuta is directly parasitic via structures (haustoria) that penetrate host tissue to tap into the host's phloem.
Cuscuta
local population
plants in flower 

 
 
plant on host
flowers 
flower, fruit and a line of haustoria (from the University of Hawaii)

     Cuscuta haustorium (from the parasitic plant connection)

More information on the Cuscutaceae


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