Where seen? This long hair-like plant is often seen draped
in green or golden tangles on seaside shrubs and small trees. 'Rambut
putri' means 'Hair of the Princess' in Malay. According to Giesen,
It can sometimes smother the host so densely that the latter is scarcely
visible. More rarely seen inland, for example in dwarf swamp forests.
It is found on all tropical shores and common throughout Southeast
Asia. Sometimes recognised as a separate family, the Cassythaceae.
According to Hsuan Keng, it is common in open bushes by the sea including
Features: A semi-parasitic plant,
it has long stems (3-8m) that grows in a tangle on host plants, green
or yellow. The thin smooth stems do not root, they attach to the host
by suckers. They are hollow, cylindrical and dark green to reddish-or
yellowish-brown. It latches onto a wide variety of hosts (some describe
it as being "totally indiscriminate in host choice"), relying
on the host for physical support, water and nutrients. There are no
visible leaves. The flowers are tiny (1.5-2mm) held on a short stalk.
Fruits are small, round, juicy white berries (7mm) that are eaten
and dispersed by birds.
Cuscuta australis looks similar and is also a semi-parasite.
But it has flowers in a globular cluster (not on a stalk) and it tends
to scramble on the ground. While Cassytha filiformis seems
to prefer woody hosts and so tends to drape on taller shrubs and trees.
Human uses: According
to Burkill, the dried, powdered stems are used in hair tonic. While
it may not do any good, the use is possibly because the plant is hair-like
and luxuriant. In India, it is used in cleaning ulcers and in an eye-wash.
In Java, the pounded stems are used for intestinal ailments. According
to Giersen, the plant is sometimes cultivated for its medicinal uses
in parts of Indonesia.
Lazarus Island, Feb 11
on short stalk.
Pulau Semakau, Dec 08
Pulau Semakau, Apr 09
Pulau Hantu, Apr 09
putri on Singapore shores