Parasitic plant invading northwestern Nevada foliage

Nevada Department of Agriculture offers identification and removal tips


Rebecca Allured
Public Information Officer
(DAYTON, Nev.) - July 13, 2017

The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) has been receiving reports of a parasitic plant called dodder in Lyon County. The parasite is not a Nevada noxious weed but is cause for concern as it can invade rangeland plants like sagebrush and agricultural crops like onions.

Dodder – often referred to as beggarweed, hellweed, devil’s guts, strangle tare or scaldweed – is native to the western United States and can be identified by a yellowish vine growing on the aboveground portion of trees, shrubs or crops. In host plants, it can cause wilting, stunted growth or nutrient deficiencies, though it will rarely kill the plant.

“Thanks to the wet winter, dodder is making an appearance in areas we are not used to seeing it,” Sean Gephart, NDA Noxious Weed program coordinator, said. “It’s mostly being reported along roadways, and we are watching closely to see how it spreads.”

Though the NDA has no regulatory authority to require removal, Gephart recommends pulling the parasite off host plants before it produces seeds. Herbicides are not recommended unless the product is safe for use on the host plant. Fertilizer can also be applied to agricultural crops or other host plants to make them more tolerant of a dodder infestation.

The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) promotes a business climate that is fair, economically viable and encourages a sustainable environment that serves to protect food, fiber and human health and safety through effective service and education. NDA includes the divisions of Administration, Animal Industry, Consumer Equitability, Food and Nutrition and Plant Industry.