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Cuscuta umbellata Kunth
South Florida Status: Historical. Last collected in 1997 on Lower Matecumbe Key.
Taxonomy: Dicotyledon; Convolvulaceae.
Habit: Annual parasitic vine.
Distribution: Native to the southern United States, the West Indies, Mexico, Central America, and South America. Wunderlin (1998) reports it as rare in Florida in Flagler County and the central peninsula. Wunderlin & Hansen (2001) records it for South Florida, and Flagler, Sarasota, and Seminole counties.
South Florida Distribution: Lee and Palm Beach counties, and the Monroe County Keys. The Palm Beach County station may have represented an introduced waif population.
South Florida Habitats: Coastal strand.
Protection Status: Not listed by any agency.
Aids to Identification: Austin (1980) has an illustration.
References: Yuncker, 1932; Small, 1933a; Austin, 1980; Godfrey & Wooten, 1981; Correll & Correll, 1982; Wunderlin, 1998; Liogier & Martorell, 2000.
Historical Context: Hugh O’Neill first collected flatglobe dodder in 1925 at the Belle Glade Experiment Station in Palm Beach County (s.n., FLAS). No habitat data was given and it is unclear if it was native to that station. It was not recorded again until Sandy Morrill and Jud Harvey collected it in 1978 on North Captiva Island in Lee County (149, USF). Part of this island is now included in Cayo Costa State Park. Gann and Florida Park Service biologist R. “Bobby” Hattaway surveyed this portion of North Captiva Island in January 2001, and habitat for the plant still exists. No plants were observed, but this may have been due to the time of year the survey was conducted.
Flatglobe dodder was most recently collected in 1997 by Wayne Hoffman on Sea Oats Beach on Lower Matecumbe Key in the Florida Keys (s.n., FTG). Hurricane Georges in 1998 and Hurricane Irene in 1999 extensively disturbed this site. Following each hurricane, the beach was bulldozed, ultimately obliterating almost every trace of native vegetation. Monroe County subsequently revegetated this area with seaoats (Uniola paniculata).
Comments: Flatglobe dodder flowers in the summer and fall, when surveys should be conducted. It is parasitic on hosts in coastal areas (Austin, 1980; Godfrey & Wooten 1981).
Recommendations: · Survey North Captiva Island and Seaoats Beach. · If plants are found, map and monitor known populations. · Review for listing by FDACS and FNAI.