Friday, 12 January 2018

Mistletoe growing on Oak

Bunches of mistletoe on a tree
Image: J. Box
Readers of BSBI's monthly eNews for botanical recorders will have spotted a note in the January 2018 issue (downloadable from our publications page here) by ecologist John Box about Mistletoe growing on oak trees.

John told us:

"The earliest known report of mistletoe on oak in Britain is the poem attributed to the 13th century Scottish poet, Thomas the Rhymer, describing the mistletoe-oak at Errol in Perthshire. It’s a rare association and there were only eleven existing oak trees with mistletoe that I knew about in 1996-98 in Britain". 

Bunch of mistletoe hanging from a branch
Image: J. Box
BSBI recorders and local records centres gave John a huge amount of help to find those locations and he went on to publish a paper in Watsonia, then BSBI's scientific journal, in 2000. Now almost twenty years later, John is updating that paper and turned to BSBI recorders again for help finding out about new records of mistletoe on oak, hence the note in eNews. You can find John's original Watsonia paper here.

John said "Five new locations have already been reported. Definite identifications of oak trees with confirmed mistletoe should be sent please to john.box@knowlebox.co.uk

He also reassured us "Full descriptions of the locations of the oak trees with mistletoe will not be given in the short paper that I hope to publish. This is because there have been financial offers to reveal locations of oak trees with mistletoe in Britain, especially on English Oak Quercus robur and Pedunculate Oak Q. petraea - for which, you can thank Pliny the Elder and his account of Druids in Gaul collecting mistletoe on oak with a golden sickle".