Not just for Kissing under - Mistletoe in Australia
Mistletoe has a bad reputation in Australia as it’s a sap sucking plant that requires a host tree, but there are a few reasons to celebrate if you’ve spotted the bright red, octopus-shaped flowers of the Mistletoe in your area.
So many Australian animals love to munch mistletoe. This plant is more nutritious than the trees they live in and the nectar and fruit is beloved by native birds such as honeyeaters, lorikeets, bowerbirds, emus and cockatoos, as well as the Mistletoe Bird. Mistletoe in your area means that you’re likely to spot native birds more often!
Mistletoe Birds live all around mainland Australia, wherever the Mistletoe grows. These birds love to eat Mistletoe fruit and are the main distributor of its sticky seeds – which they wipe discretely on tree branches after they’ve digested them. This is why they are commonly known as Mistletoe Birds.
Mistletoe Birds aren’t the only ones who love the Mistletoe. Fluffy gliders and possums also feed on the fruit and bright orangey red Mistletoe flowers.
Koalas, sheep, cattle and insects too love to nibble the leaves. Keep an eye out for butterflies around Mistletoe as well, as 25 species feed on Mistletoes during the caterpillar stage of life.
Mistletoe is a plant with many talents – not only is it a delicious dinner, but it’s also a cosy home. Birds often nest in dense, leafy clumps of Mistletoe, which protects them from bad weather and predators.
Impressed with Mistletoe? Here’s one more reason to be: Mistletoe helps with pest control. Mistletoe attracts insect-eating birds and possums, which also eat beetles and insects that chew up gum trees. The Mistletoe is a plant that just keeps on giving!
DID YOU KNOW?Mistletoes are able to mimic the host tree they are living in. Sometimes the mimicry is so close that they are almost impossible to detect.
TIPMistletoe helps maintain ecosystems, but can get out of control in areas where land has been widely cleared. You can help bring the Mistletoe back into balance by fencing the host tree from livestock to encourage regeneration and reduce soil compaction, and by planting native plants underneath the host tree to provide habitat for Mistletoe predators. You can also put up nesting boxes to encourage natural animal predators of the Mistletoe such as possums and gliders.