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NZ Plants

Cassytha paniculata - mawhai

Laurel family: Lauraceae

Cassytha paniculata is a vine with pale yellow stems and tiny scale-like leaves. The stems twine around the host and form short sucker-like branches (haustoria) that penetrate the host stem and obtain nutrients. Cassytha is the only known parasitic genus in the Lauraceae and consists of about 24 species most of which are found in Australia. They are all obligate parasites meaning that all nourishment is obtained from their host. Often confused with the similar looking but unrelated true dodder (Cuscata) which is a much more aggressive vine.
Cassytha paniculata
is found in the upper half of the North Island as well as in Australia.

Vegetative characteristics

Reproductive characteristics

Plant form: vine, hemiparasite

Arrangement of parts: symmetric


Flower size:  2-3 mm diam.

Leaf form: scales ovate to ciliate to absent

Tepals (sepals indistinguishable from petals): 6, green

Leaf size: 1-2 mm


Leaf arrangement: singly along stem

Sexuality: bisexual

Leaf attachment:

Stamens: 9

Leaf margin: hairs (cilia)

Ovary: above tepals

Leaf surface: hairless

Fruit: fleshy