ALEX BARTEL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ALEX BARTEL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Growth of mistletoe Viscum album on a deciduous tree (probably black poplar Populus nigra). Mistletoe grows on a no. Seeds are carried onto the tree by birds (particularly thrushes) in autumn & germinate in spring. The bark is penetrated by a "sinker" which grows into & taps the vascular system (xylem) of the host, removing water & minerals: the parasitism involves only water & minerals; mistletoe produces its own carbohydrate through photosynthesis. In subsequent years the root system may extend, possibly depriving the host of enough water that it dies back.
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