Monday, January 12, 2015

Red Mistletoe

NZ has 9 species of mistletoe but only two red ones Red and Scarlet Mistletoe.

Red Mistletoe mainly grows on Mountain Beech trees and Scarlet Mistletoe (our largest on which grows up to 3metres in diameter) commonly grows on Silver Beech trees. They flower in December and January.

After flowering the fruit develops that are eaten by birds which distribute the seed to the fork of a branch to grow into a new plant.

Mistletoe has declined over the years due to browsing by possum, but people have been collecting the seed and glueing them onto new trees so they can grow. This has been very successful.

Interestingly mistletoes are hemi-parasitic as they can produce food on their own through photosynthesis and use their special roots (haustoria) to hang onto trees and extract water and nutrients from their hosts.

Kissing under the mistletoe is subject to many myths and legends which have changed over the years. Today kissing under the mistletoe relates to love, long life, happiness and prosperity.

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