Scientific Name: Cuscuta chinensis
Family: Convolvulaceae (Morning glory family)
Tamil Name: Mudithali
Description: Dodder can be identified by its thin stems appearing leafless, with the leaves reduced to minute scales. In these respects it closely resembles the similarly parasitic, but unrelated genus Cassytha. From mid-summer to early autumn, the vines can produce small fruit that take the same color as the vine, and are approximately the size of a common pea. It has very low levels of chlorophyll. After a dodder attaches itself to a plant, it wraps itself around it. If the host contains food beneficial to dodder, the dodder produces haustoria that insert themselves into the vascular system of the host. The original root of the dodder in the soil then dies. The dodder can grow and attach itself to multiple plants.
Habitat and distribution: In tropical areas it can grow more or less continuously, and may reach high into the canopy of shrubs and trees; in temperate regions it is an annual plant and is restricted to relatively low vegetation that can be reached by new seedlings each spring.
Note: Many countries have laws prohibiting import of dodder seed, requiring crop seeds to be free of dodder seed contamination. Before planting, all clothes should be inspected for dodder seed when moving from an infested area to a non-infested crop. When dealing with an infested area, swift action is necessary
Photo source: Dr. J. Subramanean