Friday, 20 December 2013

Mistletoe everywhere

France is quite well known in Europe for its Mistletoe and exports large quantities every year to the UK for the Christmas celebrations, something it has been doing for well over 100 years.  Although its abundance here varies greatly from region to region where it does grow it really grows with a vengeance especially on poplar trees that have grown in the wetlands of France since before the second world war. However they have been planted in increasingly large numbers in recent years as a fast growing crop making use of boggy areas and places that are regularly inundated such as riversides. They are almost exclusively hybrids and there have been trials in France with Genetically Modified varieties, (GM or OGM). 

Environmentally these poplar plantations are a catastrophe destroying wetland habitat on a vast scale with a corresponding loss of species BUT money talks everywhere and nowhere more than in France where leaving a piece of land without it producing something is a cardinal sin.

I suppose, (grudgingly), I would have to concede that they have been a bonus for Golden Oriole that are particularly attracted to them to make their high nests but this doesn't even begin to compensate for the harm done. 

Mistletoe is a parasitic or semi parasitic plant with separate female plants that bear the fruits or berries and male plants that don't. It depends entirely on birds for propagation and I always thought of the Mistle thrush in this respect, never questioned it really, especially with the name association and the fact that it's one of the birds that will eat the seeds. However it seems in reality that the Blackcap is the best bird in this respect.

I found this really good web site all about Mistletoe so rather than crib from it, here's the link.