Thursday, November 15, 2012

Short-Jointed Mistletoe

Korthalsella taenioides
(Korthalsella breviarticulata)

A roadside stop to look at some flowering Capparis lasiantha last week,  in Edgefield Road near Dalby, was particularly rewarding.  I also found this perfect little mistletoe, growing on the caper plant.

Isn’t it a darling little thing?
The whole plant is about the size of an orange - which is as large as it gets - and it is fruiting very prosperously, as you see.
Apparently these seed capsules are weakly explosive, likely to burst, spraying out their sticky seeds, when touched. It’s thought that the plant spreads on the birds’ feet and feathers.

Korthalsella species are the only known host plants for the Yellow-spotted Jezebel butterfly, so the survival of this little plant is important to them.

It is known to grow on a wide range of dry rainforest species, including Alectryon diversifolium, Geijera parvifolia, Melodorum leichhardtii, and various Capparis species, and can probably be transferred to these plants by hand. Paople who want to attract these butterflies to their gardens might like to attempt it, in summer when seeds are ripening.
(Like all seeds, mistletoe seeds and seedlings like to be watered until they are established.)

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