Jonathan's Mistletoe Diary

July 13, 2006

Foreign mistletoe in Gloucestershire! Whatever next?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jonathan Briggs @ 8:18 pm

Don’t panic! There’s no mistletoe crisis yet. But I have a small confession to make. I’ve got North American mistletoe seedlings in my garden. Yesirree, they’re a-growing nicely.

Well, actually, they’re just a millimetre or so big, and I’m not yet sure whether they’ve linked to the host cambial tissues – but they look ok. Each one has grown from some Phoradendron seeds I planted back in February. And no I don’t know which species of Phoradendron, they came mail-order and without a name. Maybe P. flavescens, or P. serotinum or one of that there group of Phoradendrons.

What are Phoradendrons? They’re the American equivalent of our own Viscum album – similar in being an evergreen mistletoe with white berries, but very different in appearance. Take a look at this webpage to see the difference.

So why am I making such a fuss? Two reasons, one good and one bad. The good one is that it’s such fun (in an anoraky mistletoey way) to grow a foreign species. The bad one is that we don’t want foreign mistletoe species to naturalise in Britain – they could become a major tree pest – so I’m going to have to keep an eye on these, just in case they turn out to be pesky critters. (Mind you, Kew Gardens have a foreign mistletoe already – see blogs passim – so maybe I’m just following their example…)

I don’t think I’ve got anything to worry about just yet though – take a look at these pics – the pesky critters are darn small…

The first pic shows one seedling on willow, the second has several on Robinia. Dedicated mistletoe growers should immediately spot the difference from Viscum – only one shoot per seed, not two! (the shoot is at the pointy end, you can just see the green seedling through the split end of the seed case – click the pic to enlarge it).

It’s so exciting!!!

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