Mistletoe partnerships

Australian mistletoe plants can only exist in partnership with a tree since they have no roots of their own. The mistletoe has green leaves so it can make its own food but it is a parasite and gets all its liquid from the tree to which it is attached. There are over 1,000 mistletoe species, and over 75 live in Australia alone. There are so many, in fact, that there will always be one in fruit somewhere. The mistletoe bird is therefore able to eat virtually nothing but mistletoe berries and extracts the flesh by squeezing the fruit with its beak. It then digests the seed within half an hour, and when the seed comes out the other end it is so sticky that the bird must wipe its bottom against a branch to extricate itself. Once planted on a branch the seed quickly germinates and attaches itself to the tree. With access to the tree's water supply it can now start to make leaves and build food for itself.

Release date: 15 Dec 2010

4 minutes

Credits

Role Contributor
PresenterDavid ATTENBOROUGH
PresenterMike SALISBURY
DirectorNeil NIGHTINGALE
ProducerNeil NIGHTINGALE
Camera OperatorDavid BARLOW
Camera OperatorNeil BROMHALL
Camera OperatorGlen CARRUTHERS
Camera OperatorRichard GANNICLIFFT
Camera OperatorRichard KIRBY
Camera OperatorBill MALCOLM
Camera OperatorHugh MILES
Camera OperatorMichael PITTS
Camera OperatorTim SHEPHERD
Camera OperatorPeter SMITHSON
Camera OperatorGavin THURSTON

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