Many plants are thought to have mystical charms, but few have the rich history of the "bird-lime" plant. Druids believed the possessor of mistletoe would be protected from all evil, and donned white robes while searching for it by moonlight at the beginning of a new year. Hence, it has been tied with good fortune, New Years and eventually, Christmas traditions.
Having long desired to see mistletoe in its native habitat, I was fortunate to see copious amounts growing in tree tops on my recent visit to the south. Not easily found in Ohio, it does grow in a few southern locations, mostly along the river. However, it is often camouflaged by the tree's canopy and only visible during the winter months.
Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum is considered a hemiparasitic, meaning it has chlorophyll and makes its own food, yet it also taps into its host plant (often elm or silver maple trees ) for more nutrients. And how does this plant get propagated in tree tops? Birds of course! One of nature's many seed transporters, birds also cleverly deposit a packet of a white "lime"-like fertilizer along with the seed.
Mistletoe is the host plant of the Great Purple Hairstreak butterfly, and we may be able to scout some potential sites for this elusive beauty during our Flora-Quest trips. We'll have more fun than a Druid!
There may be a few rooms with bunks left at the lodge, so grab some friends and join in the fun!
Registrations are only open until April 20th, so sign up soon! Hope to see you there!