Google Streetview and mistletoe hunting

Mistletoe is often thought of as a south-western plant in Britain – though to be more accurate it’s a south-western midlands plant, and is very rare in the true south-west, very little in Cornwall, not much in Devon, and not a lot in Dorset. (See the Mistletoe Pages and Mistletoe Matters distribution info sheet for more info) .

Streetview image of mistletoe at Bushey, Dorset
Streetview image of mistletoe at Bushey, Dorset

Yesterday we had an opportunity for a brief mistletoe hunt in Dorset, mainly repeat visits to known sites, just to check it was still there.  And we used Google Streetview to make sure we were going to the right places – indeed you can use Streetview for mistletoe hunting anywhere, especially when the camera-car toured in winter, when mistletoe is more obvious.

Tantalising mistletoe colony at Pulham - there on streetview but too dark to see yesterday evening...
Tantalising mistletoe colony at Pulham, Dorset – there on Streetview but too dark to see yesterday evening…

One of our sites was at Bushey, a tiny hamlet on Purbeck, where there’s a long-established but very isolated mistletoe population in garden apples and roadside limes and poplars.  And yes it was still there.  Lots of it in fact. A Streetview detail is shown on the left (click to enlarge) – the mistletoe is unmistakable.  The Streetview picture is dated 2009, with the aerial view 2012.

Other sites also still had their mistletoe, though the early evenings thwarted our intention to see them all.  A site at Pulham had to be missed entirely as it was too dark to see, and it had looked so promising on Streetview – see screen-grab on the right. Aerial and Streetview both dated 2012.  Will have to do that one another day…

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Google aerial pictures (without bothering with Streetview) are often useful for mistletoe-spotters too – I use these for checking continuing existence of orchards, and though, like Streetview, they are often a couple of years out of date, they are usually more up to date than the maps. Again, winter pictures are best, as those can show up mistletoe as well (how many other plant species can be detected from aerial photos?).

Here are two examples from Gloucestershire, one clearly showing mistletoe in an orchard aerial view taken in winter (you need to know what you’re looking for…) and the other a similar mistletoe-filled orchard but an aerial pic taken in summer, where the mistletoe is entirely hidden…

Aerial view of mistletoe-rich orchard in winter - mistletoe is obvious
Aerial view of mistletoe-rich orchard in winter – mistletoe is obvious

Aerial view of mistletoe-rich orchard in summer - mistletoe entirely hidden
Aerial view of mistletoe-rich orchard in summer – mistletoe entirely hidden