Try and Collect Some Dodders This Summer

Dodders of the genus Cuscuta are those strange looking parasitic plants that grow like orange spaghetti over herbaceus vegetation and low shrubs. They are hard to identify because their flowers and fruits are so small that it takes a good hand lens or microscope to discriminate the tiny characters needed for species separation. Soon the new volume of the Flora of North America will be out that treats the genus Cuscuta and we would like to have more recent specimens from around New York to run through the keys. We are especially interested in the difference between Cuscuta obtusiflora var. glandulosa and Cuscuta gronovii var. latiflora in southeastern New York and Long Island. They have similar flowers but their fruits are different. Cuscuta obtusiflora has fruits that are wider than high with a depressed top whereas Cuscuta gronovii has a fruit that is higher than wide with a beak on the top. But just looking at the flowers we think that many specimens of gronovii var. latiflora have been identified as Cuscuta obtusiflora. Also, Cuscuta macrocarpa was once collected along the Mohawk River in the early 1990s near Schenectady and we would like to know if this species is more common than we think. Specimens are best collected with both flowers and fruits on the same plant. Rob Naczi at the New York Botanical Garden is especially interested in receiving specimens as he updates the Cuscuta key for the Northeast in the new Gleason and Cronquist manual. So if you’re out this summer in a meadow or a marsh and you see the distinctive orange spaghetti masses, please grab some and send them on to Rob at:

Dr. Rob Naczi
Herbarium
New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, NY 10458-5126

Cuscuta obtusiflora var. glandulosa at Jones Beach LI

Cuscuta obtusiflora var. glandulosa at Jones Beach LI

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Explore posts in the same categories: Plant Identification, Taxonomy

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