Biodiversity , Current Affairs , Mistletoe , Orchard , Science , social history

The Mistletoe that’s also a Christmas Tree

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Australia has many varieties of mistletoe, valuable for contributing (directly and indirectly) to local biodiversity and also well-known for their Mistletoe Birds which specialise in spreading mistletoe seeds. But the oddest (and biggest) of them all is the Western Australian Christmas Tree – yes, that’s a tree, and it really is called a Christmas Tree – which is one of the few mistletoe species that’s adapted to parasitize its host’s roots, not its branches. So Nuytsia floribunda, […]

Biodiversity , Current Affairs , Mistletoe , Science

Mistletoe seeds dream of a Light Christmas

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Mistletoe seeds are peculiar. As, of course, is much of the rest of mistletoe’s biology. But the seeds are rarely talked about, and I thought I it was about time I wrote some notes on them here, not least as this is the time of year many people decide they want to grow their own. I’m talking largely about European Mistletoe, Viscum album, though some of the following may well apply to other species too. […]

Biodiversity , Mistletoe , Science , social history , Travel

Back to the First Contact (with parasitic plants – though not mistletoe)

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I went back in time, sort-of, last summer when I re-visited the scene of my First Contact – with parasitic plants, not aliens. But not mistletoe – this was a different parasite… Randan Wood, near Dodford in Worcestershire, was where I first saw Ivy Broomrape, Orobanche hederae, a root parasite of Ivy.  The occasion was sometime in the mid 1970s when I would have been about 14. The day was a little unusual – a […]

Current Affairs , Mistletoe , social history

The Mistletoe Rustlers

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Mistletoe rustling is, even today, rife at this time of year – but it was once much more common. The huge popularity of mistletoe from the mid 19th to mid 20th centuries gave it a rather higher financial value than it has today. In 2012 I posted a newspaper cutting about one theft, in 1887, and since then I’ve come across many dozens of others, from the 1860s onwards. Here are a few examples – which […]

Current Affairs , Mistletoe , Orchard , Science

Mistletoe harvesting in the press

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There was an impressive feature in Saturday’s Telegraph on mistletoe harvesting, focussing on Guy and Jacqui Neath, who have a long-established business in Abberley (near Tenbury) supplying supermarkets with mistletoe. Their big customer this season is Marks & Spencer but they do supply many others. It’s not the first time they’ve featured in the press (they even appeared in comic strip form in Waitrose’s magazine a few years ago) but I thought this was a […]

Biodiversity , Current Affairs , Mistletoe , Orchard , Science

Mistletoe Auctions 2014

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The second of Tenbury Wells’ traditional three mistletoe auctions took place earlier today. At a new venue this year – Burford House Garden Store, just down the road from Tenbury itself. A refreshing change from the uninspiring windswept sites that have hosted the auctions in recent years – so well done to auctioneer Nick Champion getting the site agreed and to Burford House for allowing it. I just wish Nick would signpost the sales as […]