Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Anthophyta
Class: Eudicotyledonae
Order: Solanales
Family: Convolvulaceae
Species: Cuscuta

Below is a description of how Cuscuta pentagona fits into each taxonomic level.

© 2008 Used with permission

Domain Eukarya: Organisms in this domain have membrane bound organelles and a nuclear envelope.  Eukaryotes, like Cuscuta pentagona, have the ability to be multicellular.

Kingdom Plantae:
  All members of this kingdom have alternating generations, and undergo photosynthesis.  All plants also have apical meristems, which enables them to continually grow, and cellulose cell walls that give the plant support. 

Phylum Anthophyta:
Cuscuta pentagona belongs to the phylum Anthophyta, also called Angiosperms, because it has flowers and bears fruit.  Organisms in this phylum have vascular tissue that transports nutrients throughout the plant.  Plants in this phylum are heterosporous, meaning separate male and female gamates are produced.  Fruit grows when pollen, the male gamate, fertilizes the ovary, the female gamate.  The fruit protects the seeds and helps them to be dispersed by animals.
Class Eudicotyledonae:
This class is named by the defining trait of its members, having two cotyledons.  Other characteristics of these organisms include: having flower parts arranged in fours or fives, webbed leaf veins, and vascular bundles arranged in a ring.

Order Solanales:
The order containing Cuscuta pentagona is characterized flowers with 5 fused petals (Freckmann, 2000). Cuscuta's petals are slightly separated, but still follow this characterization.

Family Convolvulaceae:
  The name Cuscutaceae is sometimes used for Cuscuta, giving the genus its own family, however, recent studies show that Cuscuta still belongs in the family Convolvulaceae (Cook, 2006).  Members of this family are noted for having funnel-like flowers made up of joined petals (Freckmann, 2000).This is still a great deal of morphological diversity in Convolvulceae.  Plants in this family can be vines like Cuscuta pentagona, or trees, shrubs, and more.
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Cuscuta: Cuscuta is derived from the Arabic word kushkut which loosely translates to "a tangled wisp of hair" (Cook, 2006).  All dodders fit into this paraphyletic genus (McNeal, et al. 2007).  Dodders are defined by their parasitism and yellow hair like appearance.  Dodders don't have leaves and only stay rooted to the ground until they find a host, which is very quickly.

Cuscuta pentagona: The species name pentagona comes from its five angled stem (Freckmann, 2000).  Species of the genus Cuscuta are distinguished by the gynoecium which is part of the plant's reproductive system (Wright, et al. 2011).  Cuscuta species do not have roots and leaves so the best way to morphologically tell the difference between species is the reproductive structures like the style and stigma (McNeal, et al. 2007).

Phylogenetic Trees 

Adapted from Gerrish and Baines, 2012
Tree adapted from Gerrish and Baines, 2012.
This phylogenetic tree traces the lineage of Cuscuta pentagona from the origin of life to its phylum, Angiosperms.  This tree uses several methods of classification to determine relationships between organisms.  On this tree the closest non-Angiosperm relatives of Cuscuta pentagona are Gymnosperms.


Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. 1998. An ordinal classification for the families of flowering plants. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 85(4), 531-553.
This phylogenetic tree traces the lineage of Cuscuta pentagaon from phylum to order.  We start with the phylum, Angiosperms, and can follow the tree to the class Eudicots, through a few sublevels, and finally to the order Solanales.  A known relative of Cuscuta pentagona in the order Lamiales is sage, which Cuscuta also parasitizes (Ombrello).  This tree uses DNA to determine relatedness.  The sequences of 545 rbcL, atpB, and 18S rDNA genes were used as well as values of 2538 rbcL sequences.  This information can be seen in the caption of the figure.  More can be read on the original site by the
Angiosperm Phylogeny Group.


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Read about the habitat of Cuscuta pentagona.