A brand new mistletoe survey has just been launched by the Tree Council and Oxford University, as an app-based citizen science project to assess the state of mistletoe in Britain. Not just where is it, but what quantities exist. This is new, and exciting, as it will help determine what is happening with mistletoe here -it seems to be spreading more and faster, but we need a new study to assess this, and to create a baseline for assessments in future.
Mistletoe devotees may well recall the National Mistletoe Survey in the 1990s, run jointly by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland and Plantlife, the plant conservation charity. Instigated in 1992 and analysed through the 1990s up to 1999 (by me). That project, which echoed a similar one in the 1970s, merely assessed where mistletoe was growing. But not the amount growing. And so we still have no real measure of quantity. The new project aims to address that. There is a presentation all about it here: https://youtu.be/o6IcGgkcTGk
Why is that important? Well, back in the 1990s there were worries mistletoe might be being lost as its favourite habitats, apple orchards, were declining in number. But the survey actually showed mistletoe, in distributional terms at least, was doing very well. Indeed anecdotal evidence, and some detailed regional local studies since have suggested it is doing very well in quantity terms too. In all its habitats – orchards, parkland, churchyards, hedgerows etc. So well that in some locations it is overwhelming the host trees. Faster spread may be due to climate change, changes in the bird populations spreading the seeds, or something else entirely. But it needs to be assessed.. As well as finding where it doesn’t grow of course. For a discussion of all this have a read of my 2021 review here (note this is not a short read, sorry!).
So… welcome to MistleGO!, and to Oliver Spacey, the PhD student masterminding the project. Do get involved – the app requires you to give location (it will do this automatically), take a picture of the tree, or trees, with mistletoe, give a score of how much mistletoe there is, and, optionally, give additional information on host tree species etc. Full details (summarised below) are on the Tree Council website here and download instructions for the app (you need the Arc123 app first, and then run the MistleGO! app within that) are here.
Or just scan this QR code.
How to take part:
- Download the Survey123 app from the App Store or Google Play (or, if on a PC, from Microsoft)
- Download the MistleGO! survey via the link above or the QR code
- Open the app and click “Continue without signing in”
- Click on the MistleGO! survey and start collecting your record!
You can also take part and upload pictures you’ve taken via the web version, but make sure to set your location to where you spotted the mistletoe!
More about mistletoe… lots of mistletoe info on the main website here
And, if you want to grow your own, take a look at the mistletoe grow-kits available (and on offer for the rest of this month) to order from the English Mistletoe Shop here.