New mistletoe species discovered by Kew Gardens experts

23rd Dec 2010

A new species of tropical mistletoe has been described by scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London.

The research team found the plant on an expedition to Mount Mabu in northern Mozambique in 2008.

Now, just in time for Christmas, they have confirmed that Helixanthera schizocalyx is new to science.

The plant tops a list of Kew's botanical discoveries of 2010, which includes a Vietnamese orchid and an exceptionally rare tree from Cameroon.

Butterfly specialist, Colin Congdon, spotted the mistletoe in the dense foliage near the summit of Mount Mabu.

He realised that it was different from anything he had seen on the mountains in neighbouring Malawi and Tanzania. Closer inspection back at Kew confirmed it as a new species.

Mistletoes are "hemi-parasitic", meaning they take some of the nutrients they need from other plants.

When birds eat the small fleshy white sweet fruits, the seeds are wiped onto branches of trees, where they stick. Once germinated, the root grows into the living tissue of the tree to "suck out" its nutrients.

Back to List »
Share |