Alien Parasitic Plant Hits Maryland

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Blog entry by mmh posted 07-26-2009 12:01 PM 10355 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is an absolute gardener’s NIGHTMARE! I found this parasitic plant growing in my vegetable garden several weeks ago. I recognized it as an invasive plant because it was wrapping it’s tendril type strands around anything it touched like grape vine tendrils and when ever it touched another plant it formed suckers on the host plant for nurishment. The “vine” grows about a foot a day and doesn’t have roots, as it’s sucking nutrition from the other plants. It is also extremely brittle, so if you pull it, you leave behind remnants that will readily grow.

The color is of the plant is actually quite beautiful, but don’t let this fool you. If you have it in your yard, it is VERY difficult to eradicate, as you have to carefully find every centimeter of it or it will grow back. I tried as carefully as possible to get it all out 4 weeks ago an then did not water that area, hoping it would dry out and die, but since other vegetables are nearby it’s difficult to not water at all. After 2 weeks I did find additional growth from pieces I missed. It hase recently rained quite heavy here so I will have to go out again and crawl around to find ANY growth before it spreads.

I believe this is the same plant that I saw a documentary some years back that the locals in the hills (Appalachia or other similar US territory) were spreading around willingly as they had a lore that if you spread it around you would find a suitable husband. So, needless to say it was growing and spreading unchecked.

I have also seen this used in elaborate leis made in Hawaii for the horses in the annual Kamehameha Day Parade. It was harvested from the mountains and carefully handled to create thick ropes of the delicate yellow orange tendrils. It made a very stunning addition to a fern, flower neckpiece, but the idea of this invasive plant growing rampant in the mountains of such a lush tropical area as Hawaii is spine chilling.

SO, if anyone has seen this growing, I warn you that it’s quite invasive and you must take great care to remove it. It’s like bindweed, but doesn’t need soil to grow.


-- A weed is a plant that is growing where it was not purposefully placed by human hands.

View mmh's profile


332 posts in 3339 days
hardiness zone 7a

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7 comments so far

View mario1360's profile


921 posts in 3225 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-26-2009 12:16 PM

oh my goodness, I hope the border is well guarded…..:)

-- south shore montreal, zone 5a, whish it was 9

View Radicalfarmergal's profile


4312 posts in 3073 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 07-26-2009 01:12 PM

Based on your photos and description, it sounds like you might have some Dodder in your garden, of the Cuscuta genus. Sometimes known as strangleweed, witch’s hair or witch’s shoelaces. It is generally leafless and has low levels of chlorophyll. It is a flowering plant that sprouts at/near the soil line. After the seeds germinate they have to quickly find a host or die. Dodder is parasitic on a wide variety of plants. You can remove it from the host plant and soil but if the choking process has already started, you might have to remove the entire host plant or cut it way back below where the choking took place. This is because if a tip of the parasitic plant stays in the host’s tissue it can regrow from that. Good luck in its eradication.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View MsDebbieP's profile


14694 posts in 3810 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 07-26-2009 05:22 PM

and I thought “bindweed” was bad :(

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Bon's profile


7374 posts in 3590 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-26-2009 05:36 PM

Wow what a nightmare plant. I hope it doesn’t come my way.Good luck with it.

-- Bon,Hastings, 5a....Always room for one more

View GrandmaT's profile


5389 posts in 3688 days
hardiness zone 9

posted 07-26-2009 09:51 PM

OHHHHHH, I agree with Bon … a nightmare plant indeed. I feel terrible for you … :-(
Thanks for the warning!!

-- "A beautiful garden is a work of heart" --

View mmh's profile


332 posts in 3339 days
hardiness zone 7a

posted 10-22-2012 05:27 AM

I was successful in my dilligent efforts to erradicate this weed but it did take several weeks of searching between the other plants and the soil to make sure that absolutely every centemeter was removed, as it seems to be able to grow from the smallest section of stem. VERY SCARY!

I suspect that a small piece was dropped by a bird, as the are it grew in was away from the fence of our neighbors and no new plants were planted or brought in at this time. It literally grows a foot over night so I should have noticed this on any other plants.

-- A weed is a plant that is growing where it was not purposefully placed by human hands.

View MsDebbieP's profile


14694 posts in 3810 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 10-22-2012 12:30 PM

good for you!!
I have not been so successful in my gardens (with the bindweed) but then I am not as diligent as you. Bravoto you

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

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