Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Growing the Prettiest Mistletoe

Now is the time to go looking for seeds of the glamorous brush mistletoe, Amylotheca dictyophleba. (Family: LORANTHACEAE)
It was flowering exuberantly early in the new year, and the first fruits are now ripe. Like many rainforest mistletoes, this plant of the dry rainforests grows on a great variety of hosts including introduced trees, so you’re sure to be able to find a suitable place in your garden to plant this showy ornamental.

The one in the photo was growing on a silky oak tree (Grevillea robusta), well placed at face height for maximum viewing pleasure. It’s a common plant around Toowoomba where it’s found on jacarandas, camphor laurels, introduced figs, and London plane trees, as well as river she-oaks (Casuarina cunninghamiana). No doubt they will happily grow on most local native rainforest and scrub tree species. Most of the plants are self-sown, though, and do not often find themselves in positions where they can be enjoyed to the full.
The large fruits are as attractive as the flowers, in their mixed bunches of green, red, purple and black. Squeeze some ripe black fruits carefully, and you’ll see a sticky thread attached to the end of the seed. This can be attached to a tree branch in a likely place, and with luck will grow to produce a new plant.

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