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Lindsay's Flora Blog - 29th June

Posted: Monday 29th June 2020 by trustadmin

Dodder (Cuscuta epithymum)

This wasn’t the plant I had intended to talk about today but since I have had several questions about it I decided to change my plan.

Dodder is a small native parasitic plant in the convolvulus family. It contains no chlorophyll and therefore has no green colouration, but is a rootless, twining herb, parasitic on the stems of a wide variety of small shrubs and herbs, and appears as a mass of reddish thread-like strings that crawl all over its host plant – commonly Thyme, Gorse or Bird’s-foot Trefoil – and at the moment here, Lady’s Bedstraw.

The leaves are no more than tiny scales and the little pale pink flowers, resembling miniature pom-poms, appear in clusters in the summer. The plant can be pollinated by bees but it is hermaphrodite and can also self-pollinate.

Dodder is locally common on Alderney, particularly within the Longis Reserve. In the UK, while still locally abundant, it is declining due to loss of habitat - primarily heathland and dune grassland - and is now classed as “vulnerable”.

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