Thanks to a colleague on WordPress, the truth is now known which invader is attacking my basil plant.
To begin at the beginning, it was a harmless basil herb that I bought in the local supermarket. They arrive every year in small pots, but this year they were selling a king sized pot. My tomato mozarella salads were saved for the summer season. Basil is a sensistive herb and you never see it in Switzerland in the winter months. It prefers the warmer days and does not survive the ice and snow.
I put my basil outside but left it in the pot. It is no good transferring it to the garden where it serves as breakfast, dinner and tea to the slugs and other insects that attack with their knives and forks, figuratively speaking of course. And so my basil began to grow and we had a harvest. One day I noticed fine strands of hairlike formation growing from the top of the plant. I thought it was spreading out roots and making a new plant. However after removing this strange growth I realised it renewed itself in other places.
And so it grew and stretched its little arms out searching for an anchor. I received some suggestions from online colleagues. It is bindweed some said, which I could agree on. We have bindweed in the garden, but the vines are thicker and they have white flowers. My mum called it convulvulus and removed it immediately if it grew in our garden, as it would quickly conquer everything. Another colleague decided it must be a parasite so kill it. She was not wrong. In the meanwhile our own gardener arrived to trim our hedges. Mr. Swiss has back problems and can no longer do the work, and my problems with MS no longer permit strenuous gardening work. I asked the gardner and he said he had never seen anything like it, which was not exactly helpful. In the meanwhile the plant performed a few more curves. It seems it is probably the only existing example in Switzerland. I am still thinking about telling the local newspaper “Dodder Invades Switzerland” would be the headlines on the front page.
Yes it was growing with an aim. Yesterday the mystery was solved. An expert saw my blog and said it was most probably dodder in his words “It is a nasty parasitic plant, and is quite contagious to other herbaceous plants” confirming my suspicions. Wikipedia calls it Cuscata and tells me it is mainly found in tropical and subtropical regions, and often in California (death valley comes to my mind). There is a European variety, but I have a feeling this one somehow smuggled itself onboard in the earth delivered to the supermarket chain from somewhere else (a secret weapon perhaps, although Switzerland is a neutral country and quite harmless). I do not know where my supermarket gets these plants, perhaps from a guy wearing a long cloak with a hood and carrying a scythe – who knows. I suspect some sort of strange magic. They are now probably growing and developing all over Switzerland. “Houston we have a problem”.
In the meanwhile it grows regardless. It seems that seeds could be slumbering in the earth waiting to develop and pounce on an unsuspecting plant. My main worry is now that they could take a flight and arrive in my garden, attacking everything and spreading its feelers out, stifling everything in its way. I can no longer sleep at night worrying if the tap on the window is the rain or the dodder trying to find an entrance.
Today I made a decision. I shot a few more photos, as a memory and it will be transported into our communal green garbage container. I have my own container, but this maruding villain will not be granted entrance. It could infect everything. I am now even suspicious when my cat has a scratch.
I would like to thank once again all assistance and advice, expecially the person that gave me the correct solution. I am saved from a close encounter of the third kind.