Dodders always attract my attention. The dense mass of orange thread-like strands seem like contained chaos to me, perhaps a metaphor for life. The plants in today’s photograph can be seen from the satellite imagery via Google Maps (look for the orange spots).
Prior to 2009, this taxon was considered to be a part of Cuscuta salina. However, this recent paper describes the evidence for establishing it as a separate species: Costea, M. et al.. 2009. Untangling the Systematics of Salt Marsh Dodders: Cuscuta pacifica, a New Segregate Species from Cuscuta salina (Convolvulaceae) (PDF). Syst. Bot. 34(4):787-795. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1600/036364409790139583. Costea et al. used a combination of DNA and morphometric analysis to support the segregation (splitting) of Cuscuta salina.
Cuscuta pacifica, or coastal salt-marsh dodder, is native to coastal areas from southern British Columbia to Baja California. The species it was previously lumped with, Cuscuta salina, is now recognized as generally being a species of inland salt flats, marshes and ponds, though it is present near the coast in California (including the Channel Islands) and Baja California. Its northernmost extent is in Nevada and Utah. For British Columbian botanists, this means the specimen record for Cuscuta salina from near Spences Bridge will need to be taxonomically re-evaluated; most likely it is a misidentification as opposed to a significant disjunct (note: the E-Flora BC site has yet to update to Cuscuta pacifica, but with the description of habitat and range by Costea et al., it is a near-certainty that all of the records in the extreme southwest corner of the province conform to Cuscuta pacifica).
Coastal salt-marsh dodder is “especially” parasitic on Jaumea carnosa (Asteraceae) and Salicornia spp. (Chenopodiaceae).