Silk (genus)

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Nettle silk (Cuscuta europaea)

Nettle silk ( Cuscuta europaea )

Euasterids I
Order : Nightshade (Solanales)
Family : Bindweed family (Convolvulaceae)
Tribe : Cuscuteae
Genre : silk
Scientific name of the  tribe
Scientific name of the  genus

Silk or devil's twine ( Cuscuta ) is the only genus of the tribe Cuscuteae within the plant family of the bindweed family (Convolvulaceae). Other common German names are Jungfernhaar, Kletterhur, Schmarotzerseide and Hexenseide. The more than 200 species are distributed almost worldwide, they feed parasitically on other plant species. The textile fiber silk is an animal fiber and has only the name in common with the plant species of this genus. The Latin name cuscuta probably comes from Arabic and is related to the Greek kadytas ('parasite plant').


Vegetative characteristics

Illustration of nettle silk ( Cuscuta europaea )

The species of the genus silk ( Cuscuta ) grow as left-winding, climbing and practically rootless, annual herbaceous plants . They are full parasites that grow on the host plants without contact with the soil. They are connected to the host via haustoria that form along the looping axis of the shoot and deprive it of all the nutrients it needs. If the host is persistent, they can occasionally grow persistently themselves. The stems are thread-like and greenish, yellow, orange or reddish in color. The actually alternate leaves are so reduced that they are mostly not to be seen or are only developed as about 2 mm large scales.

The plants do not have a root . A reduced root is only formed after the seed has germinated. After the seedling has found a suitable host plant, it wilts. If the seedling does not find a host plant within its first few days, it will die.

Subgenus Cuscuta : Quendel silk ( Cuscuta epithymum )

Inflorescences and flowers

Most of the inflorescences are cymes , which can also be head - or panicle - shaped or consist of just a single flower . The inflorescences can be accompanied by up to three bracts .

The flowers are hermaphroditic, radial symmetry and usually four or five-fold. The mostly more or less creamy white colored sepals are partly fused together, but stand free from each other for 2/5 to 3/5 of the length. The crown is usually more or less white; the corolla tube is cup-shaped to cylindrical and can be provided with a bulge or horizontal ribs below the corolla lobes. The calyx and often the crown are permanent on the fruit, with the crown then wilting.

Between the stamens there are mostly scale-shaped lobes that can be upright or bent back. The ovary is upper constant, has two seed chambers with two ovules . The two styles are mostly free from each other and are permanent on the fruit, the two stigmas are usually spherical.

Fruits and seeds

The spherical to egg-shaped capsule fruits do not jump open or open irregularly or only rarely open via a ring crack near the base. There can be an inconspicuous opening between the styluses, in this area the fruits are often thickened and / or raised. The fruits contain one to four seeds . When the seeds have swollen, they have a papillary surface that becomes honeycomb-like when dry.


External system

Cuscuta is the only parasitic species in the family of wind plants . Earlier editors therefore partly placed the taxon in a separate family of silk plants (Cuscutaceae). According to the system of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group , Cuscuta continues to be listed within the Convolvulaceae. Studies with the help of molecular genetic methods confirm this classification . Cuscuta is the only genus of the tribe Cuscuteae within the Convolvulaceae family .

Internal system

The genus silk ( Cuscuta ) includes over 200 species , which are divided into three sub-genera. The approximately 25 species of the subgenus Cuscuta are characterized by two pens of the same length, which are completely free from each other and conically in the elongated scars pass. The largest number of species has the subgenus Grammica with at least 135 to 140 species. The species have two free-standing styles of different lengths that end in short, often spherical scars. The approximately nine species of the subgenus Monogyna have partially or completely fused styles with spherical or elongated stigmas. The following list is based on the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families , Saša Stefanović and Mihai Costea 2008 as well as Miguel A. Garciá and María P. Martín 2007, deviations and additions to this are marked with individual references.



Historical illustrations

Individual evidence

  1. Vagn Jǿrgensen Brǿndegaard: Ethnobotany. Plants in customs, history and folk medicine. Berlin 1985 (= contributions to ethnomedicine, ethnobotany and ethnozoology , 6), p. 257
  2. ^ PF Stevens (from 2001): Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 7, May 2006.
  3. Ray Neyland: A phylogeny inferred from large ribosomal subunit (26S) rDNA sequences suggests that Cuscuta is a derived member of Convolvulaceae. In: Brittonia. Volume 53, No. 1, 2001, pp. 108-115, doi : 10.1007 / BF02805402 .
  4. Saša Stefanović, L. Krueger, RG Olmstead: Monophyly of the Convolvulaceae and circumscription of their major lineages based on DNA sequences of multiple chloroplast loci. In: American Journal of Botany. Volume 89, No. 9, 2002, pp. 1510-1522 ( online ).
  5. a b Cuscuta in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), USDA , ARS , National Genetic Resources Program. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Retrieved August 1, 2015.
  6. Mihai Costea: How many species of Cuscuta are out there? . In: Digital Atlas of Cuscuta (Convolvulaceae). Retrieved December 15, 2008.
  7. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da db dc dd de df dg dh di dj dk dl dm dn do dp dq dr ds dt du dv dw dx dy dz ea eb ec ed ee ef eg eh ei ej ek el em en eo ep eq er es et eu ev ew ex ey ez fa fb fc fd fe ff fg fh fi fj fk fl fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw fx fy fz ga gb gc gd ge gf gg gh gi gj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv gw gx gy gz ha hb Rafaël Govaerts (Ed.): Cuscuta. In: World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP) - The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew . Retrieved November 22, 2018.
  8. ^ Saša Stefanović, Mihai Costea: Reticulate evolution in the parasitic genus Cuscuta (Convolvulaceae): over and over again. In: Botany. Volume 86, 2008, pp. 791–808, DOI: 10.1139 / B08-033 (PDF; 1.0 MB)  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. .@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  9. Miguel A. Garciá, María P. Martín: Phylogeny of Cuscuta Subgenus Cuscuta (Convolvulaceae) Based on nrDNA ITS and Chloroplast trnL Intron Sequences. In: Systematic Botany. Volume 32, No. 4, 2007, pp. 899-916, DOI: 10.1043 / 06-59.1 .
  10. Mihai Costea, Ignacio García Ruiz, Mark Welsh: A new species of Cuscuta (Convolvulaceae) from Michoacán, Mexico. In: Brittonia. Volume 60, No. 3, 2008, pp. 235–239, DOI: 10.1007 / s12228-008-9017-0 , (PDF; 307 kB) ( Memento of the original from September 20, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was used automatically and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  11. ^ Mihai Costea, Guy L. Nesom, Saša Stefanović: Taxonomy of the Cuscuta pentagona Complex (Convolvulaceae) in North America . In: SIDA: Contributions to Botany. Volume 22, No. 1, 2006, pp. 151-175 (online) .
  12. a b Mihai Costea, Fiona Aiston, Saša Stefanović: Species delimination, phylogenetic relationships, and two new species in the Cuscuta gracillima complex (Convolvulaceae) . In: Botany. Volume 86, No. 7, 2008, pp. 670-681 DOI: 10.1139 / B08-030 (PDF file) .
  13. Pedanios Dioscurides . 1st century: De Medicinali Materia libri quinque. Translation. Julius Berendes . Pedanius Dioscurides' medicine theory in 5 books. Enke, Stuttgart 1902, p. 468 (Book IV, Chapter 176): Epithymon (digitized)
  14. Pliny the Elder , 1st century: Naturalis historia Book XXVI, Chapter XXXV (§ 55–56): Epithymum (digitized version ) ; Translation Külb 1855 (digitized version ) ; Book XXVI, Chapter LXVI (§ 106): Epithymum (digitized) ; Translation Külb 1855 (digitized version )
  15. Galen , 2nd century De simplicium medicamentorum temperamentis ac facultatibus , Book VI, Chapter V / 14 (based on the Kühn 1826 edition, Volume XI, p. 875): Epithymum (digitized version )
  16. Avicenna , 11th century: Canon of Medicine . Translation and adaptation by Gerhard von Cremona , Arnaldus de Villanova and Andrea Alpago (1450–1521). Basel 1556, Volume II, Chapter 138: Cuscuta (digital copy) ; Chapter 229: Epithymum (digitized version )
  17. Constantine the African , 11th century: Liber de gradibus simplicium . Pressure. Opera . Basel 1536, p. 346: Cuscuta (digital copy) ; P. 368: Epithymum (digitized version )
  18. Circa instans 12th century print. Venice 1497, p. 192v: Cuscuta (digitized version ) ; P. 197r: Epithymum (digitized version )
  19. ^ Pseudo-Serapion 13th century, print. Venice 1497, sheet 105r (No XXXIX): Cuscuta (digitized) ; Sheet 132r (No CCLVI): Epithymum (digital copy )
  20. Abu Muhammad ibn al-Baitar , 13th century, Kitāb al-jāmiʿ li-mufradāt al-adwiya wa al-aghdhiya. Translation. Joseph Sontheimer under the title Large compilation on the powers of the well-known simple healing and food. Hallberger, Stuttgart Volume I 1840, pp. 57-59: [Cuscuta epithymum] (digitized version ) Volume II 1842, p. 380-381: [Cuscuta epithymum] (digitized version )
  21. Cpg 558 , Nordbayern, around 1470–1485, sheet 26r (digitized version ) Transcription: Seÿde water is good there jin the flax change set is good for everyone seeks the livers and the lungs, which rains it vnd ​​stercket them and drives the poses humores of everything body and drives away the addicted and drives away the urine stone and the gel-addicted person is godly outside and is good for the grief in the body and it also clears the face and is good for the women whom the mother is clogged with and the sickness does not have at the right time and vmb the navel-filled be and make full harmenn and good who has the stain
  22. Cpg 545 Nuremberg (?) 1474, sheet 117r-v (digitized version ) Transcription: silk water Item silk water is good. syden grows ym flags and has cleine white plumeria The water is good for everyone who is looking for the livers and lungs and cleans them and cleans them and drives away the poses of humor from the body and is also good for the addiction of water and is good for the disease and disease drives the stone out of the world and it is good for the grymme ym body as it is drunk and it is good for the women when the mother is cold and the sickness is not at the right time Vnd vmb the navel should be given to drink the water also makes you harp and wash your eyes and make them clear and light
  23. Michael Puff : Booklet of the burnt-out waters . 15th century print Augsburg (Johannes Bämler) 1478 (digitized)
  24. Herbarius Moguntinus , Mainz 1484, Part I, Chapter 42 (incorrectly referred to as Chapter 48): Cuscuta. Syde uff flaß (digitized version )
  25. Gart der Gesundheit . Mainz 1485, chapter 92: Cuscuta. Fyltzkrut or syde (digitized version ) ; Chapter 169: Epitimum die bevels uff den cleen (digitized version )
  26. Hortus sanitatis 1491, Mainz 1491, Part I, Chapter 149: Cuscuta (digitized version) ; Part I, Chapter 172: Epithimum (digitized version )
  27. ^ Hieronymus Brunschwig : Small distillation book , Strasbourg 1500, sheet 110v – 111r: Tottern. Cuscuta (digitized version)
  28. Hieronymus Bock : New Kreütter Bůch . Wendel Rihel, Strasbourg 1539, Part II, Chapter 89: Silks. Viltzkraut (digitized version )
  29. Leonhart Fuchs : New Kreütterbuch… Michael Isingrin, Basel 1543, chapter 131: Flachß seiden (digitized version )
  30. ^ Pietro Andrea Mattioli : Commentarii, in libros sex Pedacii Dioscoridis Anazarbei, de medica materia. Translation by Georg Handsch, edited by Joachim Camerarius the Younger , Johan Feyerabend, Franckfurt am Mayn 1586, sheet 449r – v: Filtzkraut (digitized)
  31. Nicolas Lémery  : Dictionnaire universel des drogues simples. , Paris 1699, p. 244: Cuscuta (digital copy) ; Translation. Complete material lexicon. Initially drafted in French, but now after the third edition, which has been enlarged by a large [...] edition, translated into high German / By Christoph Friedrich Richtern, [...]. Leipzig: Johann Friedrich Braun, 1721, Sp. 380: Cuscuta (digitized)
  32. Albrecht von Haller (editor): Onomatologia medica completa or Medicinisches Lexicon which explains all names and artificial words which are peculiar to the science of medicine and the art of pharmacy clearly and completely [...]. Gaumische Handlung, Ulm / Frankfurt am Main / Leipzig 1755, Sp. 523: Cuscuta (digitized version )


  • Mihai Costea, Saša Stefanović: Cuscuta (Convolvulaceae) . In: Bruce G. Baldwin, Douglas H. Goldman, David J. Keil, Robert Patterson, Thomas J. Rosatti (Eds.): The Jepson Manual. Vascular Plants of California. 2. revised u. extended Edition. University of California Press, Berkeley, Calif 2012, ISBN 978-0-520-25312-4 (online) .
  • Daniel L. Nickrent, Lytton J. Musselman: Introduction to Parasitic Flowering Plants . In: The Plant Health Instructor. 2004, doi : 10.1094 / PHI-I-2004-0330-01 .
  • Hans Christian Weber: Parasitism of flowering plants. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1993, ISBN 3-534-10529-X .
  • Hans Christian Weber: Schmarotzer: Plants that live on others. Belser, Stuttgart 1978, ISBN 3-7630-1834-4 .

Web links

Commons : Silk ( Cuscuta )  - album with pictures, videos and audio files