It's Christmas! So it's only right, surely, that we have a bit of a Christmassy theme to the blog today.
Fans (or otherwise) of Sir Cliff Richard will have filled in the blankety blank in the title to have guessed our puckersome little topic of the day - mistletoe.
And what a curiosity it is. It makes its own food through its simple, paired,evergreen leaves, but lives only up in trees, penetrating the bark with its 'roots' (properly known as a haustorium) to sup the sap. And Mistletoe is fussy too, much preferring apple trees over any other, but also found in poplar, hawthorn and occasionally oak and field maple and a few other species.
It's value for wildlife is mainly in its white gloopy berries, which are borne in midwinter. You may have gathered by now that I like things that are connected, so if you're similar you'll enjoy that the Latin name of Mistletoe is Viscum album; something that eats Mistletoe might then be called a viscivore; and the Latin name for Mistle Thrush is Turdus viscivorus. It all adds up, doesn't it?
So here's your little post-Christmas wildlife gardening job with the Mistletoe that you've had hanging over your door - take the berries, crush them with your fingers, and wipe the two seeds within them into a crack or crevice on an apple tree, just as a Mistle Thrush might do after a spot of Christmas berry hunting. Only one in a blue moon will successfully grow, but imagine the happy thrushes - and the surplus of kisses - that will await you if it does!
Strangely enough, Adrian, that's what I have done this year for the first time! Only we haven't got an apple tree, so I've tried Amelanchia, Acer and Rowan..... but I never thought of the hawthorn in the hedge! So many thanks for that, I'll rush out and rescue some of the remaining berries I put out to see who eats them, and put them in the hawthorn. ( so far, only blackcap seen to take one berry) Will let you know on 10 years time if it was successful!
I spread some seeds around last year, a few sent two green, probe like things into the tree, it reminded me of a Bourg assimilating some defenceless creature and I was having a few guilt pangs. Last year was the first year I have got the seeds to do anything but there is still no sign of any leaves being formed.
If anyone is successful I’d love to hear how you got them to grow.