Can You Guess?

By Kerri on August 14, 2013 in Blog


Land Stewardship Assistant Ryan snapped this photo a few weeks back while working out at Indiangrass Hills in eastern Iowa. There’s something odd happening here – can you guess what’s going on in this picture?

And the answer is…..

The picture shows Culvers Root (Vericastrum virginicum), the white flower. However, the culvers root has been parasitized by a species of dodder (Cuscuta genus), the orange vine-looking plant. This is not an uncommon thing to happen, but it is still very neat to be able to see in nature. Dodder, native to Iowa, is a parasitic plant that lives off of the nutrients produced by other plants. It is a unique plant in that it does not produce chlorophyll, so it cannot produce its own food. It usually does not kill the host plant but it can stunt its growth.