Signs of mistletoe

Below are three photographs of mistletoe seeds I took at La Selva Research Station in Costa Rica. Seeds were most likely deposited by birds perching on the signs, but I’m not sure whether the birds scraped off the seeds (which can be extremely sticky, due to presence of viscin threads) or simply pooped them. If the latter was the case, the bulk of the poop is long gone, but it rains enough in the tropics for that to happen. There are threads visible on the top photograph, so I’m going to guess that the seeds were attached to the birds somehow, and the birds scraped them off onto the sign.

By the way, mistletoe are parasitic plants … which is why it’s amusing (to me) that they were on a sign. Although they are clearly green and can photosynthesize, they’ll eventually need the water (and other xylem contents) from a host. Under those adhesive pads there is (or will soon be) a haustorium that will attempt  to burrow into the substrate in hopes of finding host xylem. If I lived at the station I’d naturally record how long these beasties survived, but staff probably clean off the seedlings every few weeks just so it doesn’t look to nasty. Some species can apparently last a year as self-sufficient seedlings.

Colin Purrington Photography: Parasitic plants &emdash; Mistletoe seeds germinating on pole and sign

Colin Purrington Photography: La Selva, Costa Rica &emdash; mistletoe-seedling-close-up

About Colin Purrington

PhD in evolutionary biology • twitterinstagram

This entry was posted in Biology, Education, Graphic design, Photography, Science and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply