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gerontius grumpus
50109.  Thu Feb 09, 2006 7:28 pm Reply with quote

How can a gorse bush become doddery?

Common dodder, Cuscuta epithymum is a parasitic plant which lives on gorse, heather and some smaller plants.
It consists of many fine reddish filaments whoich spread over the host plant, sapping nutrients by means of adventitious roots.
Although it looks primitive, dodder is a flowering plant of the family Convovulaceae (bindweeds) it produces small clusters of tiny pink flowers.

50238.  Fri Feb 10, 2006 10:52 am Reply with quote

So I wonder how 'doddery' got applied to somebody being old and shaky? Or is it just onomatopoeic do you think?

50401.  Fri Feb 10, 2006 5:23 pm Reply with quote

Could it have anything to do with 'Old Man's Beard', a lichen that grows on trees, and seems to have the same habit as 'dodder'. We're not talking serious botany here, by the way.
There is also a river or two called Dodder, and I believe that the snail used to be addressed as 'Old Man Dodder'.

gerontius grumpus
50411.  Fri Feb 10, 2006 6:33 pm Reply with quote

I think I know the kind of lichen that you mean (or rather group of lichens) there are several genera known collectively as beard lichens.
The common Clematis is known as old man's beard because of its cotton-like seed heads.
The shrubby wormwood is known as old man because of its grey haggard appearance.

Interesting about the snail and the rivers.
Could it be something to do with moving slowly?

50450.  Fri Feb 10, 2006 10:42 pm Reply with quote

Etymonline has dodder first recorded in 1617, from Middle English daderen 'to quake, tremble' (1483)
apparently frequentative of dialectal dade, on a form similar to totter, patter.

gerontius grumpus
56784.  Fri Mar 03, 2006 1:37 pm Reply with quote

Having established the origin of the verb, I wonder how the plant got its name.


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