Zombie Spaghetti, YUM! Or maybe not…

Have you ever seen a plant that looked like a delicious spaghetti dinner? What if that plant was actually just an incompetent series of zombie vines that kills other plants? The Japanese Dodder plant, often called the zombie spaghetti plant, does just that. The Japanese dodder plant is a type of holoparasite; a plant which requires a host plant to survive off of.

This intricate plant resembles spaghetti with it’s tiny yellow stems and occasional red specks. The Japanese dodder can grow pale yellow or cream colored flowers along with scale-like textured leaves. The fruit that grows in these vines are small and capsule-like, each fruit carries only a few seeds each. The vines of a dodder plant can be hard to distinguish against regular vines, but farmers and gardeners should be on the lookout because the seeds can be very dangerous,they allow the plant to spread like a wildfire. The seeds can travel due to animals or water traveling to nearby areas. The Japanese dodder plant can also spread just with a part of the vine alone, for exampleIf the vine were to simply break off and land in the soil, it can grow and reattach to other host plants.

The seeds of the Japanese dodder is what keeps the plant infinitely expanding. The seeds can grow in soil but must attach or come in contact with a host plant in order to survive for more than a few days. This is because the vines must steal nutrients from their host, which kills the host plant in the end. When the seed comes in contact with a host plant, root structures called haustoria will penetrate into the host plant. The haustoria will go into the vascular tissue and absorb all of the nutrients and water. This is how the Japanese dodder survives. The dodder plant is capable of surviving off of another plant due to the protein channels found in the membrane of plant cells. This allows the nutrients and water of the host plant to enter the dodder plant.

The Japanese dodder plant gets nearly all of its energy from its host plant. It is capable of photosynthesis but it chooses to get its energy from another plant rather than the sun. This is a great example to see that not all plants operate in the same way and that they can get energy from other sources or plants.

The Japanese dodder can be a major issue for farmers, although it is fascinating it is a rather dangerous and deadly pesticide s. The Japanese dodder is a parasitic vine and can kill their host plant in 2 to 3 years. The Japanese dodder is the most powerful dodder that can overtake a variety of shrubs, trees, and crop plants like tomato, pumpkin, peas, and many others. Since the Japanese dodder is a highly regulated pest, you must report the detection of the plant in order for it to be safely removed since it does not respond to common weed killers.

Next time you are eating spaghetti, double check that it’s not the Japanese Dodder plant.

About Mr. Mohn

Biology Teacher

This entry was written by Caroline B. and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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