Magical Mistletoe

It is the last day of 2019 and a dull cloudy walk was brightened by some huge mistletoe plants in apple trees at Baddesley Clinton near Leamington Spa.

There is one species of mistletoe in the U.K. it is Viscum albums. There are approximately 900 Species worldwide.It is a plant that is found across the U.K. but the main population is centred in the SW Midlands. In recent years the range of mistletoe has expanded into more eastern areas. One explanation of this is the higher numbers of continental blackcaps from Germany that have started to overwinter in Britain and spread the seeds.

Birds such as blackcaps and mistle thrushes love eating mistletoe berries. The berries are sticky and the birds wipe their beaks on a tree branch and the new plants of mistletoe can grow.

Mistletoe is a semi parasite, it has sucker like roots that attach it to the tree where it can tap into water and nutrients from the host tree. It does photosynthesise and produces it’s own food.

It is found in trees such as Apple, lime , sycamore ,ash ,poplar ,hawthorn but very rarely in oak.

Mistletoe is a dioecious plant which means that a plant is either male or female. Female plants have the creamy white berries that the birds love.

The mistletoe marble moth is a priority species for conservation and needs mistletoe to complete its lifecycle.It has declined in the six counties it is found in and this is thought to be because of the commercial collection of mistletoe in these areas.

A walk at Wrest Park a couple of days ago was full of trees covered in Mistletoe.

Mistletoe is at the centre of folklore and myths it is wrapped up with fertility, love, protection and Christmas .

It is a strange plant , it grows between the sky and the soil it is neither a tree or a shrub , it is a semi parasite . There are many tales to explore about this mysterious magical evergreen in the trees.

Happy exploring in 2020 !


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