Aug 24, 2011

Mistletoe Regrowth

Amyema lucasii
We were distressed to find, last summer, that some person unknown had been ripping the Lucas Mistletoe off our beautiful Leopard Ash tree. Various theories were propounded: that it was an piece of ordinary mindless vandalism; that it was the act of a “do-gooder” who believed that he or she was actually helping the tree; and that it was a case of theft by some greedy person who wanted the wood for wood-turning, and saw no reason not to steal public property.
Whatever the cause, it left a large branch looking bare and ugly, as it has no other leaf growth than that of mistletoes.

So it’s a relief to see it regrowing. We can expect the mistletoe to behave like any other plant after a severe pruning. It may miss flowering this season, but will be refreshed and look more beautiful than ever.

It has also been rather interesting to discover that the branch itself is still alive, despite the absence of any of its own leaves.
Meanwhile, the rest of the tree is demonstrating the ability that trees have, of killing off mistletoes when under stress. You will notice that it is carrying quite a few dead mistletoes. They were probably been killed off as the tree closed down the water supply to its smaller branches, something that all drought-hardy trees can do whenever they are stressed for lack of water.
I may be wrong, though. Mistletoes have a short life-span compared to that of trees like this one, and they may simply have reached their use-by date.
We have been noticing that this tree carried a rather heavy load of mistletoes, and wondering whether they were stressing the tree during the long drought. It seems we don’t have to worry, as Nature has taken care of the problem. We will probably see renewed vigour in the canopy as a result, and may be able to look forward to a beautiful flowering season this October.
Trish Gardner


Martin said...

I compiled a flora list for Frankes Scrub a few years back if you are interested?

Patricia Gardner said...

Hi Martin.
If you're the Martin I think you are, the plant list you made was passed onto early in our history, and we've been very grateful for it! We have added a number of things to it since then, as we've become more familiar with our special patch - but the bulk of it is still your original work. We'd be very happy to acknowledge you in the body of the blog, if you'd like. Just send us an email so we can be sure who you really are.