A tale of two mistletoes

There’s a new mistletoe species here at Mistletoe Towers, all the way from Africa originally.  Though this particular set of seeds came from, er, Malvern. 

One seedling germinating
on Euphorbia

It is Viscum minimum, related to our familiar Viscum album, but, as the name suggests, a much reduced plant.  Tiny actually.

I haven’t ever grown it before, though have seen several specimens grown indoors.  For it isn’t an outdoor species, not here in Europe, as its hosts are tropical succulents.   Euphorbias in fact, themselves related to the familiar milky-juiced plants of gardens and woodlands.   In Africa succulent Euphorbias occupy a similar niche to the cacti of North America.  Thick-stemmed, often rounded, plants with minimal leaves, adapted for life in very dry conditions.  They are often mistaken for cacti.

V.minimum, also succulent and minimally-leaved, is a wonderful example of how the mistletoes are adapted to a huge range of hosts.  It lives within the tissue of the Euphorbia, with minuscule succulent leaves of its own, on the host surface.  The biggest features are the flowers, followed by red berries, also close to the host surface.

My plants are, at present, simply germinating seeds, not much to look at yet. Only time will tell if they get established.  So far they look, not surprisingly, very similar to Viscum album seedlings (see pic of one of those on the right).  They are nearly 2 months old now and there are three that look promising.  But none have yet established a hold fast on the host, so nothing is yet certain.

The pictures below show two completely different Euphorbias on which Viscum minimum seeds have been placed.  There are close-ups of the germinating seeds.  Note how much the two Euphorbias have grown in the 2 months I’ve had them.  Much faster growing than cacti.  Though they haven’t been slowed down by the mistletoe yet…

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