Wednesday, August 26, 2015

strangling weed

Dodder. Could there be a spookier plant?

Also known as devil's guts, devil's hair, golden thread, hair weed, hellbine, strangleweed or witch's hair—now, there’s a collection of memorable names that H. P. Lovecraft would have loved—dodder is a parasitic plant. Its orange tendrils slowly reach out and attach themselves to healthy, green plants. At first, it's like a gentle caress.

But here’s what happens next. Are you sitting down?

After a dodder attaches itself to a plant, it wraps around it tighter and tighter. If the host contains food beneficial to the dodder, it produces haustoria (essentially roots) that insert themselves into the vascular system of the host. The original root of the dodder in the soil then dies. It’s no longer needed. The dodder can grow yards and yards long, latching itself onto even more plants. In this way, the dodder slowly spreads in all directions, feeding on the plants it has entwined.

Devil's guts! It's out there; creeping in all directions.

Wait a minute! Did I just hear something gently scratching on my window?

-Photo taken along Clingman’s Dome Road in the Great Smokies.


Trendle Ellwood said...

An early spook story!

Stephen Lyn Bales said...

Yes, Trendle.

Very spooky indeed.