berries , Blogroll , Gardening , Mistletoe , Other parasites

A tale of two mistletoes

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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.  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. […]

Current Affairs , Mistletoe , social history , Travel

Ahhh Biska!

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In urban myth Tequila is flavoured by a worm in each bottle. This is, of course, untrue. Only certain types of Mezcal (similar to Tequila) bottles have worms – and even those aren’t worms, they’re moth larvae from the Agave plants that are fermented to make the drink. Not worms, and not in Tequila. Popular belief will also tell you that mistletoe is toxic, dangerously so. So you might think it’s a myth that there’s […]

Biodiversity , Blogroll , Current Affairs , Gardening , Mistletoe , Other parasites

A back garden parasitic plant safari

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Parasites in lockdown – a round-up of the parasitic plants I’m growing in our garden this year, so far: Not just mistletoe, but also dodders (two species), broomrape (one species – another due soon) and yellow rattle. And an aspiration for Lousewort and a hope of Toothworts (two). Firstly mistletoe, obviously. There’s lots of that (I wonder why?!). These are young growths, about 4 or 5 years old, planted by Blackcaps on an already mistletoe-laden […]

berries , Biodiversity , Gardening , Media , Mistletoe , Other parasites , Science

Growing your own, for the common good, in NZ

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My recent post about the new mistletoe-eating bird in Borneo reminded me of several other exotic (to us in Britain) mistletoe stories. One particular story from last year came to mind – a project in New Zealand where local residents were being given mistletoe seeds in an effort to re-establish local mistletoe species. The project, based in Christchurch, involved the collection of seeds by local ecologists and then the doling out of 20 seeds each […]

berries , Biodiversity , birds , Blogroll , Current Affairs , Gardening , Mistletoe , Science , tropical mistletoe

The Spectacled Flowerpecker – a new bird that likes mistletoe

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Ten years ago, deep in the Borneo rainforest, a new species of bird was spotted feeding on berries from one of the local mistletoe species.  Small, grey but quite pretty it was given the name Spectacled Flowerpecker – but not, at the time, a formal scientific name because that needs formal examination and description – which means a bird in the hand, not in the bush. The preliminary announcements about it in 2010 hailed it […]