Biodiversity , Gardening , Mistletoe , Science

Mistletoe Planting Season is here!

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Want to grow some mistletoe? Now (February and March ) is the time to start – seeds germinate best in early spring. And here’s how: You’ll need some fresh berries, or older ones that have been kept in a cool and (crucially) light place since they were picked. The light bit is essential – the seeds in the berries need to be in sunlight to survive, they’ll soon die without it. The need for light brings […]

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 […]

Biodiversity , Current Affairs , Food and Drink , Mistletoe , Religion , Science

Mistletoe Drones – silly and serious

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Today sees the first of the 2014 Tenbury Mistletoe Auctions – and I’m unable to be there. So instead here’s a story (two stories actually – a serious one and a silly one) about mistletoe drones. The Mistletoe Diary has covered mistletoe drone stories before, notably last year when some ‘interactive artists’ deployed a mistletoe-bearing drone in Union Square, San Francisco. This year reports of similar initiatives are coming in from all over the place. This […]

Current Affairs , Food and Drink , Mistletoe , Science , Travel

Mistletoe, Good Luck and War

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Earlier this month I contributed to a local WW1 exhibition with some documents and correspondence relating to my Great Uncle Clifford, who died in July 1918 as a Prisoner of War. He shipped to France on 2nd April and was immediately sent to serve in the trenches but on 27th May, after just 8 weeks at war, he was captured. Several official ‘I am a Prisoner of War’ postcards were sent home and a longer […]

Biodiversity , Current Affairs , Mistletoe , Orchard , Science , Travel

Mistletoe website, auction and survey news

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Running late on so many mistletoe matters this season. And hardly had time for blog updates. So here are a few bits and pieces of info, just to get things moving and answer some questions: Mistletoe crop 2014 – looking good, lots of berries. And, for all those journos who insist on writing silly stories about a berry glut (or shortage, if doom’n’gloom is your forte) being due to a hot/cold, dry/wet, winter/spring/summer/autumn (take a […]