Friday, September 5, 2014

Botany picture #173: Cassytha glabella

A genus that I had never heard of before I came to Australia is Cassytha. As a twining, fully parasitic plant that has lost leaves and roots, it represents a remarkable case of convergent evolution with the dodder genus Cuscuta. Whereas the former is a member of the Lauraceae and as such of a very early diverging ("basal") lineage of flowering plants, the latter is deeply nested within the Asterid clade of the Eudicots. Shown here is fruiting Cassytha glabella, observed at Jervis Bay a few days ago. It appears to be parasitising on a member of the heath family Ericaceae.

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