Species of the Month: November / December 2014

Mistletoe: Viscum album

ARKive image - Mistletoe growing in mature lime tree ARKive image - Mistletoe

A festive species for the run up to Christmas, Mistletoe is surprisingly under recorded with just over 350 records in the SEWBReC database. The instantly recognisable white berried female plants are traditionally hung in houses as a Christmas decoration, but this species is also easy to spot growing in the wild. As trees lose their leaves, keep an eye out for large ball shape growths in the upper branches. Viscum album is the only european species of Mistletoe, so ID is comparatively easy - a glance through binoculars will confirm the presence of the characteristic leaves and berries.

As a semi-parasitic plant, Mistletoe grows directly on the branches of host trees, and is particularly associated with orchards due to its preference for apple trees, but can also be found in taller trees such as Lime. More information and photos of this species can be found on Arkive.

If you spot Mistletoe during this winter (or at any other time of year) please send us the record, ideally via SEWBReCORD. Instructions on how to submit records are available here.