Dodder is one of the strange parasitic plants which are part of the Illinois flora. Dodder starts out as a plant with roots in the soil, where the small seeds have germinated, but as the thready yellow, orange, or red stems reach up and twine around a nearby plant, the roots shrivel and the plant loses all contact with the soil. The dodder derives nourishment from the juices of the host plant, which the parasite obtains by means of suckers attached to the plant at numerous points of contact, The ultimate fate of the host plant usually is death, but it usually lasts long enough for the dodder to nourish itself throughout the summer and blossom out in quantities of tiny yellow orange flowers produced in masses along the thready stems. It is a strange plant, the dodder. It belongs to the Bindweed family, along with the morning glories and bindweeds, all of which have proper leaves and roots set in the ground. But something happens to the dodder after it starts to grow and it never has any leaves or green coloring matter to assist in the manufacture of its own food. All it needs, therefore, are the tightly twining stems which grow by dozens like eager worms around all the plants in the immediate vicinity until the dodder plants make a bright orange mat against the greenery of the summer. Dodder makes seeds, as other plants do. and these fall to the ground to germinate.


Cuscuta species.

Summer Bottomlands.