Cassytha is a native parasitic vine that was first observed on Kure in 2001. It can parasitize most plants found on Kure, and generally kills the host. It thrives in Scaevola taccada (Naupaka) and has devastated about 35 acres of the North and East sides of the island as of 2013.
C. filiformis is a vine-like, autoparasitic and plant-hyperparasitic phanerogam (seed-bearing plant) in the plant family Lauraceae.
Cassytha produces large round seeds. These are often spread by shorebirds, which eat the fruit, but more commonly fall where they are produced. Seedlings sprout as a thick tendril that grows in search of a host. They can grow as long as a few meters on the energy stored in the seed.
Cassytha extracts nutrients from the host plant by means of specialized structures, known as haustoria, that appear as small suckers or feet where the vine contacts the host. Cassytha can also grow from small sections of vine that are cut or broken from the parent plant. Care should be taken when building and maintaining Cassytha buffers to ensure that no plant material is on or transferred to the ‘clean’ side of the buffer.