Creature feature: love vine

Love vine (Cassytha filiformis)

love vine (Cassytha filiformis)The love vine (Cassytha filiformis) is a greenish to yellow climbing and twining, practically leafless vine that’s a parasite of a variety of coastal flowering plants. It uses small adhesive structures called haustoria to invade the host’s tissues and suck out nutrients and water. It gets its genus name from the Aramaic word kesatha, or “a tangled wisp of hair”. C. filiformis is also known as “devil’s gut”.

The love vine is found on “sandy dunes, margins of evergreen gully and riverine forests, deciduous plateau and coastal woodlands, montane grasslands and dambo margins”, and sandy beaches and lakes, parasitizing mainly on woody plants but also on grasses and herbs. In El Nido, it is most easily seen on Snake Island, parasitizing on the plants growing along the side of the hiking trail (if you’re going up the trail, look down and to the left).

The love vine is used in traditional medicine in China, Indochina, Madagascar and South Africa for a variety of illnesses, including cancer, human birthing issues, gonorrhea, kidney ailments, and African trypanosomiasis. A review of the pharmacological research into the love vine may be found here.

For more information:
Mythili S, Gajalakshmi S, Sathiavelu A, and Sridharan TB. 2011. Pharmacological activities of Cassytha filiformis: a review. Asian Journal of Plant Science and Research 1 (1): 77-83.

Nelson SC. 2008. Cassytha filiformis. Plant Disease PD-42. Cooperative Extension Service, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

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