DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Drooping mistletoe (Amyema pendula) on a eucalyptus tree at Kalorama, Victoria, Australia. The large mistletoe (centre) is attached to the tree (out of picture, left) by means of a horizontal branching stem. The plant shows a few remaining flowers (red). 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 are found to show increased biodiversity over areas that lack them.
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