Friday, July 22, 2011

dodder and pickleweed ~ 07/22/11 ~ Elkhorn Slough

salt marsh dodder on pickleweed

The orange stringy stuff is dodder, and the cactus-looking plant is pickleweed. When I first saw dodder at Elkhorn Slough, I thought someone's brightly-colored, tangled, plastic fishing line had washed in from the last high tide. It took seeing dodder at Pinnacles, too far away from any fishing, for me to figure out it is a plant, parasitic and alive.

blooming salt marsh dodder
Cuscuta salina 
Convolvulaceae (formerly Cuscutaceae)

So, imagine my further surprise to find dodder blooming... not just tiny little blooms, but relatively good-sized white blooms, way bigger than the thin orange stems supporting them. As of 1998, it has been moved to the morning glory family. Wild.

blooming pickleweed
Salicornia virginica (aka Salicornia depressa, Sarcocornia pacifica)
Amaranthaceae (formerly Chenopodiaceae)

When I first saw the dodder blooms, I thought it was the pickleweed blooming. Nope. Pickleweed has barely noticeable white blooms as shown above, which apparently has allergenic pollen. It, too, has been moved to a new family.

ps 10/07/11 - I wished I had linked to the reference of where I read the pollen was allergenic. I do remember a volunteer-looking fellow had stopped as I was taking these pictures to point out the tiny flowers on the pickleweed. We had a brief quip about how that was unexpected considering the more showy dodder blooms. In any case, the main reason for this postscript is that Wanderin' Weeta states the white stuff on the pickleweed are actually salt crystals, not flowers. I haven't been able to find any information about this. Do you know?


Jeannette said...

So are you saying that if one dodders about in the pickleweed one might get a runny nose?

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Haha! That's a good one. And all this time I thought it was the sea breeze making my nose run.