DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Drooping mistletoe, Amyema pendula, on a small stringybark Eucalyptus tree at Pound Bend, Warrandyte, Victoria, Australia. The picture shows a large mistletoe (centre) attached to the tree on the left by means of a horizontal stem. The leaves of the mistletoe have a yellow-green hue, in contrast to the cooler green of the tree foliage (bottom left, and distant background). Mistletoes are parasitic shrubs; they are photosynthetic, but derive water and mineral nutrients from their host. The seeds are spread by birds; most commonly in Australia by the mistletoe bird, Dicaeum hirundinaceum. The bird eats the fruits of the plant, and defecates whilst perched on tree branches. The seeds adhere to the tree and germinate into new mistletoes. Areas with mistletoes show increased biodiversity over areas that lack them.
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