golden dodder

Cuscuta campestris
infestation on a lake margin (Photo: Sheldon  Navie)
close-up of seeds (Photo: Steve Hurst at USDA PLANTS  Database)
mass of tangled stems (Photo: Sheldon  Navie)
close-up of flowers (Photo: Sheldon  Navie)
Tasmanian dodder (Cuscuta tasmanica), one of the similar native dodders (Photo: Greg Jordan)

A distinctive yellow, golden or orange coloured parasitic plant. Its short-lived leafless climbing stems are hairless thread-like. These stems produce small suckers which penetrate the host plant's stems or leaves. Its small flowers (2-4 mm long) are cream to white in colour with five pointed petals. They are borne in small dense clusters containing about five flowers. Its small globular capsules (3-4 mm across) contain up to four seeds.

Common names 
Also known as: Angel's hair, beggar vine, field dodder, love vine, strangle vine, strangle weed,
Flowering time 
Spring - Summer
The actual native range of this species is obscure. It is thought to be native to North America (i.e. Canada, USA and Mexico) and parts of the Caribbean (i.e. the Bahamas, Cuba, Guadeloupe, Jamaica and Martinique). Possibly also native to parts of South A
Council declaration 
SIL – Special Investigation List
Known distribution 

This species is widely naturalised throughout the coastal and sub-coastal regions of Australia. It is most abundant in south-eastern South Australia (particularly along the Murray River and its tributaries), south-eastern Queensland and eastern New South Wales.


A common weed crops, that is also commonly found growing on plants and other weeds in pastures, gardens, parks, along waterways and along roadsides.


A leafless, twining, parasitic herbaceous plant with yellow or orange coloured stems. This species is usually short-lived (i.e. annual), however it can live for longer periods if attached to a long-lived (i.e. perennial) host plant.

Impact and control methods 

Golden dodder (Cuscuta campestris) is a parasitic plant that is largely known as a pest of crops, particularly of plants belonging to the daisy family (i.e. Asteraceae). However, it also attacks a wide range of naturalised species and native plants that are growing in grasslands, open woodlands, coastal vine thickets, riparian areas and wetlands. It causes damage by absorbing food material from the host plant, but the dense mat of stems it produces can also cause shading of the ground vegetation layer. This species is a minor environmental weed in south-eastern Queensland. Golden dodder (Cuscuta campestris) is also regarded as an environmental weed in some parts of Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. It is of most concern in inland wetland areas in these states. For example, it is frequently seen growing along Willandra Creek and its lagoons in Willandra National Park in the Riverina region of southern New South Wales.

Stem and leaves 

The twining and branching stems of this species are usually golden yellow (occasionally pale yellow, yellowish-green or orange) in colour. They are hairless (i.e. glabrous), thread-like in appearance, and have small suckers (i.e. haustoria) which are used to penetrate the host plant's stems or leaves and extract nutrients. This species has no obvious leaves. The leaves are actually reduced to minute alternately arranged scales.

Flowers and fruits 

The small flowers (2-4 mm long) are cream to white in colour and slightly bell-shaped (i.e. tubular). These flowers have five sepals and five pointed petals which are partially fused together at the base (i.e. the calyx and corolla are five-lobed). The petal lobes are bent outwards or downwards (i.e. reflexed or deflexed) when fully open and the calyx lobes do not overlap each other. Flowers also have five stamens and are borne in small dense clusters of about five in number. Flowering occurs mostly during spring and early summer. The fruit are globular capsules (3-4 mm across) containing up to four seeds. Seeds are tan-coloured and more or less rounded in shape, but with a flattened side, while their surface has a granular texture.

Reproduction and dispersal 

This plant reproduces by vast numbers of tiny seeds, and sometimes also by stem fragments. These seeds and stem fragments are spread mostly in contaminated agricultural produce and by water. Seeds may also be dispersed in mud attached to vehicles and by animals.

Similar species 

Golden dodder (Cuscuta campestris) is similar to other introduced and introduced dodders, which are much less common in the region. It is also relatively similar to the native dodder laurels (Cassytha spp.). These parasitic twiners have three petals (instead of five) and their stems are green or greenish-yellow in colour (instead of being yellow or orange).