Botanical name: Cuscuta reflexa Family: Convolvulaceae (Morning glory family)
Amar bel (meaning, immortal vine) is an unusual parasitic vine related to the Morning glory family. It grows in a prolific manner over host plants ( or other support ) with inter-twined stems, giving it a common name of Devils Hair. The plant is leafless and rootless. Initially the starter plant would have had some roots. Within a few days of germination, the plant, which is touch sensitive, finds a host or dies. After establishing itself on a host body, it draws nutrition from the host as a stem parasite and the roots wither away. The twining stem develops Haustoria which are root like and penetrate the host stem to draw water and nourishment. The flowers are small , white, having a perfect bell shape and a fleshy calyx, attached directly to the stem nodes. Although a few species are reported to have medicinal use, the rampant Dodder plant is a voracious and destructive vine which usually will overgrow and kill the host. It also is a cause of transmission of different virus diseases such as Citrus mosaic and Purple Blotch to field crops and trees. Its seeds can remain dormant for five years and control of Dodder is an important issue for crops and forests. Plant lovers and conservationists enjoying this site should note that in Current Science magazine* it has been identified as an emerging threat to the plant diversity in the Valley of Flowers. While this flower appears like a perfect lustrous bell, the experts advise that wherever an unwanted Dodder vine is growing, all its stem pieces should be removed (preferably before seeding) and burnt!
*Current Science, Vol. 84, No. 10, 25 May 2003
Identification credit: Akhila Sinha
The flower labeled Amar Bel is ...