Viscum album   Mistletoe C DD N

Viscum album at Poznan Viscum album

I most often see this plant in large clusters on poplar trees at the side of the M5 between Birmingham and Gloucester and can usually count more than 25 trees which have been parasitised. The close-up photo one came from a tree which was full of Viscum album but was all well out of reach. I had to reach up at arm's length and hope that the camera would pick something up.

The name literally means "sticky white" referring to the fruits. The Mistle Thrush is one bird which loves these berries. It eats them and then excretes the seed. The seed remains sticky and will stick on the bough of a host tree where it might germinate. Although it sends roots into the bark of the host tree Viscum album is also evergreen and because it contains chlorophyll, is capable of making some nutrient sugars of its own. It is dioecious which means there are separate male and female flowers which flower in Spring.

The world wide distribution of Mistletoe is not really understood. You don't find it much in the North of England but it is very common on the continent even where it is very cold in the Winter. The picture on the left show trees full of mistletoe in a square in the centre of the busy city of Poznan in Poland.

In the British Isles Mistletoe is supposed to be common in England but records start to diminish as you go north. In Wales it has an eastern distribution and there isn't much to be found in Scotland or Ireland.

LHS: Square in Poznan, Poland 27th November 2003 RHS: Grounds of Erddig Hall, Wrexham, December 9th 2004.

Added on December 9th 2004, updated 25th February 2012

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