|Neutral ||kennedyh ||On Jul 8, 2003, kennedyh from Churchill, Victoria
Australia (Zone 10a) wrote:
This is one of the numerous Australian mistletoes and is a very common species in our area. It grows as a parasite, mainly on Eucalyptus and Acacia trees, but it has also established itself on several introduces trees including Hawthorn and various fruit trees.
They are impossible to grow by choice, but within 5 years of our establishing a garden, a mistletoe plant established itself in a Black Wattle (Acacia mearnsii) that we had planted. We now have mistletoe in several trees andf shrubs around the garden. Local people see it as a pest that will kill its host, but that rarely happens, and then only because there are a large number of mistletoe plants in a single host tree. The flowers are attractive, and they are also favoured by the birds. Honeyeaters can often be seen feeding at the mistletoe flowers.
One of our loveliest butterflies, the Imperial White, feeds its caterpillars exclusively on mistletoe and we have now seen several broods of these butterflies reared on the mistletoe in our garden. A large attractive moth also feeds its caterpillars on this mistletoe and we have seen at least one Mistletoe Moth caterpillar on our mistletoe.
The seeds are dispersed by a very specialised little bird, the Mistletoe Bird. This pretty little bird feeds mainly on mistletoe berries. It helps the seed to find a host to grow on, by always perching along the branch it is on, rather than across it like most birds. The result is that its droppings land on the branch and the seed which passes through the bird, is provided with a site in which to grow and the fertiliser to help it get started.
I tried once to grow some from seed, because I noticed that some berries on a mistletoe plant had seed which were already geminating while still on the plant.
I carefully pressed each seed into a branch of a tree, some in my garden and some in our local park, and used some tape to make sure that they remained. No mistletoe plants developed however. I may just have to hope that the Mistletoe Birds eventually visit the park, if I want mistletoe to grow there.