Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Buttonbush Dodder - Cuscuta cephalanthi   Engelmann
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Section 6 » Order Solanales » Family Convolvulaceae
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AuthorEngelmann
DistributionCollections known from just three counties, plus an apparent sight report in a fourth -- two from the mountains, one from the Piedmont, and one from the northern Coastal Plain.

This is a widespread but seemingly scarce species, ranging from southern Canada to GA, TX, and CA -- with many states lacking or having very few collections.
AbundanceSeemingly very rare to rare across the state; as with all Cuscuta species, it is grossly under-collected, but it seems to be legitimately scarce, at least relative to most other dodder species. Details of abundance/rarity in the provinces is not clear at the present time, but in VA most records are from the eastern Coastal Plain. This is a Significantly Rare species. The website editors suggest a State Rank of S1?, instead of the NCNHP's S1, for two reasons -- the known records occur across the state, and it is presumably under-collected.
HabitatThis dodder grows on woody hosts, such as Buttonbush (Cepalanthus occidentalis). In VA, the habitats are "Tidal swamps, alluvial swamps, wet clearings" (Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora website); thus, it should occur mostly in wetland habitats in NC as well.
PhenologyFlowers in August and September, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationSee Taxonomic Comments. The description as taken from Gleason (1952): "Flowers mostly 4-merous, about 3 mm. long, sessile or short-petioled in loose clusters. Calyx shorter than the corolla-tube, its lobes obtuse. Corolla-lobes ovate, obtuse, erect to spreading, about half as long as the tube."
Taxonomic CommentsMost references have or had the scientific epithet as cephalanthii, but the single "i" at the end seems to be correct, according to Weakley (2018).

The species of Cuscuta all share a few similar features, and they are difficult to separate except by mostly small characters, best seen with a hand lens or microscope. Each is a parasitic vine, lacking roots or true leaves, and nearly all are orange or yellow in color, twining up its host plant with the use of tiny aerial "roots". The small white flowers are in clusters along the stem. These plants should be quite familiar as a group, often presenting a tangled mass of orange vines growing over other plants. See Weakley (2018) or other references for keys to assist in identification.
Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS1 [S1?]
Global RankG5
State StatusSR-T
US Status
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