04 April, 2013

A To Z Blogging Challenge: Dendrology And Dodder Vines

Dendrology is the study of woody plants and a subset of botany. The most familiar plants considered to be "woody" are trees, but dendrology includes vines and shrubs as well; not that trees exactly limit one's field of study since there are over 100,000 species in existence.

In the field of dendrology, it has been recently discovered that dodder vines (also known by some pretty colorful names including Witches' Shoelaces, Devil Guts, Hairweed, Love Vine, and Strangleweed), a parasitic plant that requires a host to survive, searches out its host by smelling for it. The dodder will move around in circles, detecting the chemical fingerprints of potential hosts, until it finds the right one and latches on.

The following video is a time lapse of a dodder's movements as it chooses between a wheat and a tomato plant; skip to 0:25 if you want to get straight to the action.




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Sources:
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/dendrology
http://www.tree-identification.com/dendrology.html
http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/dodder.htm
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6160709
http://phys.org/news78763233.html

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Ever heard of dodder vines before? (I hadn't until last night when I watched Nature.) Do you grow any vines or trees?


-----The Golden Eagle

26 comments:

Misha Gericke said...

Whoa that is seriously cool! And I thought my sundews were awesome.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Fascinating. How do plants smell with no noses? Terrible. I know. I couldn't resist an old joke.

Michael Offutt, S.F.A. said...

That is a truly incredible video. Plants hunting by scent. Now I understand fully all those horror stories made into movies featuring carnivorous plant life.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Creepy! I wonder if the kudzu is that type of plant, since it clings to every large tree here in the south.

Pat Hatt said...

Those are quite the colorful names it has, very cool indeed.

Andrew Leon said...

Plants are freaky. It's a good thing they don't have brains.

Krista McLaughlin said...

Okay that is creepy, but at the same time is cool! Plants are pretty cool. :) I've never heard of them until today!

JeffO said...

Dendrology was one of my favorite classes back in college. Great little film there, very cool.

Mark Means said...

Amazing what some plants can do. I've never heard of the Dodder Vine, but it's very interesting.

Cindy Dwyer said...

Very cool. But not surprising. What's not to love about the smell of a tomato plant? :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

That is so cool and creepy.

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

The video is not available in my country, apparently. Now I'm mad, I was looking forward to that! I've seen plenty of plants like this which twist their way around everything, quite amazing.

Trisha F said...

Bummer, the vid isn't available in my country apparently! Sounds so cool though. I don't remember having heard of dendrology before. I love to learn these things! :)

Elise Fallson said...

Very interesting. Unfortunately, the video is not available in my country. :/

DWei said...

Don't got a green thumb I'm afraid. That's more my Dad's sort of thing.

Anthony said...

Interesting blog post--Neat info. on dodder vines...

Charles Gramlich said...

I always remember that "dendrites" in the brain were named for their resemblance to trees.

S. L. Hennessy said...

Dodder vines somehow remind me of the creepy plant in Jumanji haha.

Milo James Fowler said...

Holy cow, that's cool. Nature sure can be amazing -- wish there was more time to just be with it, you know?

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Vines fascinate me. English ivy has taken over at least one of our trees. Wisteria is growing like crazy in another tree. Thanks for sharing this.

Mary Montague Sikes

Ash-Matic said...

'Do you grow any vines or trees?'

Well, no. But I like to think I support viticulture through my extensive red-wine habit.

C. Lee McKenzie said...

Now that's stuff that makes for some real good sci-fi! I wish my biology teacher had used some of these films. I might have paid more attention.

Susan Kane said...

This answers some questions about this one aggressive plant I had--had being the operative word. It honed in on the most vulnerable plants. thanks.

The Golden Eagle said...

Misha: I love carnivorous plants. Someday I'm going to have a Venus flytrap in my window . . .

Maurice: LOL. Well, I'll admit it was new to me.

Michael: There's a lot of material to build on!

Alex: If it clings, it's most likely parasitic.

Pat: I had fun finding those. :P

Andrew: It's fascinating they can do so many things without brains.

Krista: I assume you mean dodder vines, not plants, right? ;)

Jeff: So cool you took a class on dendrology!

Glad you liked the film.

Mark: I agree.

Cindy: You know, I've never actually smelled a tomato plant . . . just tomatoes.

Susan: Isn't it? :)

Duncan: Aww, I had thought because it was a YouTube video you'd be able to view it. Nature has regional blocks on its content even on YouTube, apparently. :(

Trisha: I wish Nature would open up its content to other countries!

Elise: That's too bad. There are some really good pictures online, though.

DWei: It's more my mom's in my case, too. I love plants but I don't grow many of them.

Anthony: Thank you! :)

Charles: They have the same branching networks, I suppose.

S. L.: I've never watched Jumanji but it would be creepy if plants did that to people!

Milo: I know. There's so much to take away from natural surroundings.

Mary: You're very welcome!

Ash-Matic: LOL. I guess it would kind of grow vines indirectly. :P

Lee: I can just imagine an SF book about the attack of the vines . . .

Susan: I wouldn't have held onto a plant like that, either.

You're welcome!

Paul Tobin said...

Fascinating stuff-unfortunately I could not watch the video in the UK. I love the way this A-Z challenge broadens my mind.

The Golden Eagle said...

Paul: Sigh. I'll have to do some searching in future posts for videos that are internationally viewable.