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The dreaded dotter

Heymatt:

As my husband and I drove down several San Diego freeways recently, we noticed that there were tufts of orange cotton-candy-like fluffy stuff growing on the bushes along the freeway. What is it?

-- No Name, the net

If I understand your description, you're seeing the dreaded dodder. Nasty stuff. The botanical name is Cuscuta, but it's commonly called devil's guts, devil's hair, strangleweed, and a few more names equally rude. Dodder is a parasite plant that grows in a mat-like, tangled mass of fine stems. It has no chlorophyll, so it can't make its own nutrients. Instead, it attaches to other plants with little suckers and kills the host by taking all its food. There are dozens of species of dodder, and once it's established, it's very hard to get rid of. The plants you see now will die in the fall, but next spring the seeds they dropped will probably sprout. If the sprouts find a green host within 48 hours, the dodder's off again for another year. It may look cheery and picturesque, but it's miserable stuff.

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Heymatt:

As my husband and I drove down several San Diego freeways recently, we noticed that there were tufts of orange cotton-candy-like fluffy stuff growing on the bushes along the freeway. What is it?

-- No Name, the net

If I understand your description, you're seeing the dreaded dodder. Nasty stuff. The botanical name is Cuscuta, but it's commonly called devil's guts, devil's hair, strangleweed, and a few more names equally rude. Dodder is a parasite plant that grows in a mat-like, tangled mass of fine stems. It has no chlorophyll, so it can't make its own nutrients. Instead, it attaches to other plants with little suckers and kills the host by taking all its food. There are dozens of species of dodder, and once it's established, it's very hard to get rid of. The plants you see now will die in the fall, but next spring the seeds they dropped will probably sprout. If the sprouts find a green host within 48 hours, the dodder's off again for another year. It may look cheery and picturesque, but it's miserable stuff.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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