New England south-ward.
Late summer and autumn.
Flowers: small; growing in clusters. Calyx' five-cleft. Corolla: tubular; five-lobed. Stamens: five. Pistil: one; styles, two. Leaves: none, their place taken by yellowish bracts. Stem: copper yellow; twisting and twining like a bunch of tangled wire; parasitic.
We may well inquire into the ways of this little parasite, which, although its victims are of a different class, is quite as uncanny as the insectivorous plants. Its coiled seed drops into the ground, germinates, and sends up a yellow stem, which, when it has hardly reached two inches high, begins to stretch out for some shrub or plant about which to entwine itself. It then puts out suckers which penetrate the bark and drain the already assimilated sap of the plant. The original ground stem withers and falls away. The dodder is therefore left wholly dependent for nourishment upon its victim. Its persistent, close growth about the bark of a shrub inflicts great damage.
The tangled gold threads are interesting when we come upon them; but once the habits of the plant are known it cannot but inspire us with a feeling of repulsion.