Cuscuta epithymum

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaCuscutaceaeCuscutaCuscuta epithymum


An annual, rarely perennial, rootless twining herb, parasitic on the stems of a wide variety of small shrubs and herbs (most frequently Calluna vulgaris, Thymus polytrichus, Ulex gallii and U. minor) on heathland, chalk downland and fixed dune grasslands. It is also casual on field crops and in arable field-borders at the northern and western extent of its range. Lowland.



World Distribution

Eurosiberian Southern-temperate element; widely naturalised outside its native range.

© P. Shannon

Broad Habitats

Dwarf shrub heath (cover of dwarf shrubs at least 25%)

Light (Ellenberg): 7

Moisture (Ellenberg): 6

Reaction (Ellenberg): 2

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 2

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 4.3

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 15.9

Annual Precipitation (mm): 846

Height (cm): 1

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Therophyte (annual land plant)



Clonality - primary

Far-creeping by stolons in illuminated medium

Comment on Clonality

anomalous; an annual forming extensive clones but not rooting

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 494

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 27

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 12

Atlas Change Index: -1.28

JNCC Designations