Sunday, January 26, 2014

Kissing under the Dung Branch

The winter after we moved down to South Wales I noticed unfamiliar ball shapes in the bare trees.

Mistletoe isn't something I remember seeing 'up north', but down here, and especially in Gloucestershire and Somerset it is quite common.  This year hasn't been too good, but last winter there were berries everywhere.  As you likely know, although probably wouldn't couch in such terms, it's an obligate hemiparasitic plant - although it does photosynthesise it can only grow attached to a tree.  Once developed you can hardly see the join ......

but it is clearly completely different to the host.

The tree in the first shot had a fabulous crop of berries last year and really I should have tried to get some snaps of the redwing and fieldfare that visited, but the branches were high, the birds flighty and I don't think even a hide would have worked assuming the farmer tolerated it.  Still with rainclouds behind the tree looked good.

Dung branch?  The sticky seeds spread in bird poo, and one theory about the name is that it stems from the German words mist (dung) and tang (branch).

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