Submitted by AJ Cann on Sun, 25/10/2020 - 10:22
    Yellow Dodder

    Earlier this month a strange parasitic plant popped up under a bird feeder in a Leicestershire garden. More...

    Yellow Dodder, Cuscuta campestris, is related to bindweed. These plants are most common in temperate and tropical regions, becoming rare in cool climates with only four species native to northern Europe. With twining stems like bindweed, Dodder has more or less dispensed with leaves - since it doesn't photosynthesise, it doesn't need them. Instead, it produces root-like structures called haustoria which insert themselves into the vascular system of a host plant (which it detects by smell). The original root of the dodder in the soil then dies and the ectoparasite derives its nutrition from the host. 

    In our climate Dodder is an annual, so it may or may not reappear next year. It undoubtedly arrived with Niger bird seed, a notorious source of Dodder. Our recent record may be only the second time this species has been recorded in Leicestershire and Rutland, so please keep your eyes open for more - especially around Niger seed bird feeders.