UK: Mistletoe under threat says National Trust


One of the UK's biggest landscape guardians - The National Trust - has warned that one of the most recognisable botanical symbols of Christmas faces an uncertain future because of the decline in traditional orchards.

Mistletoe (Viscum album) is a particular oddity. For a start it's parasitic and although it often reduces the growth of their host tree, which can vary between a number of species, large colonies on a single tree can be fatal. It also seems to be of particular ecological importance, which is in stark contrast with how it used to be perceived (as a pest that must be eradicated). It provides food for many woodland animals, with the most famous of these probably being the Mistle thrush and curiously it has become custom to kiss beneath its leaves and berries over the Christmas period.

This fascinating video produced by The National Trust highlights the importance of traditional orchards to mistletoe and outlines the ecology of these unusual plants.

Related links:

Mistletoe on Arkive

UK IN PICTURES: Botanical rarities from Breckland


small blue flower against dark backgroundPlantlife - the plant conservation charity - are working to protect nine priority species in the extraordinary Breckland landscape. Here's a few photos of some of their target species.

UK: Glorious diversity found in ancient farming landscape


close up of small flowerIn the far east of England on the border between the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk lies a piece of land called Breckland. It's been known for a long time that Breckland has some rather special natural history but a recent study has shown just how important it really is.