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Six facts about mistletoe and how to grow it

By Heather 12 years ago

It might seem to be the wrong time of the year to be writing about mistletoe, but it’s at this time of the year when the berries are at their ripest and ready to introduce to your tree or shrub.

  • There are over a thousand mistletoe species worldwide, but the one we are most familiar with is the native British mistletoe, Viscum album.

  • Traditionally we associate mistletoe with apple trees, but you can also use hosts such as poplar, lime and hawthorn trees.

  • Mistletoe is one of a number of parasitic plants, gaining some of it’s nutrients from a root under the host’s bark.

  • The common name of mistletoe is derived from the berries being eaten by birds, usually the Mistle Thrush. The seeds are excreted by birds, complete with sticky mucus, and attach to the host tree or bush.

  • Mistletoe takes several years to become established. In the first year they bond with their host plant and only in the following year will produce leaves. The picture above shows a three year old mistletoe plant.

  • Avoid placing seeds on your most prolific apple tree as mistletoe can severely affect the crop. They are best placed on an older tree where cropping is not an issue.

To learn more about all things mistletoe take a look at these sites:The Mistletoe Pages Jonathan Briggs' blog Mistletoe TravelsThe Tenbury Wells Mistletoe Festival

A thorny tail...

By Heather 12 years ago

Farm hedges usually contain a considerable amount of thorn - particularly Hawthorn due to the fact that the hedge was planted originally not for wildlife but to keep the stock in (or out) of the field.
But, as in turns out Hawthorn is a great plant for lots of wildlife - as Phil Reddell, from the Hollybush Conservation Centre explains when talking about creating outdoor classrooms in Leeds Schools. The easiest way of planting hawthorn and a whole native hedge is to plan it now, and plant it between November and March using bareroot plants.
However, as we always say there's a balance "Clifford the Trim" is cutting our roadside hedges now, and now several cyclists in the village including Monty have flat tyres because of hawthorn! (Farmer Phil says Clifford makes hedges into works of art - a sort of Van Gogh of hedges)