Dendrophthoe is a genus of parasitic plants. There are about 30 species with six native to Australia.
Dendrophthoe vitellina is an erect or pendulous species with elongated, greyish-green, elliptical leaves to about 15 cm long. It occurs on a range of species but is most common on plants in the myrtle family (Myrtaceae) such as Eucalyptus. Flowers are seen from late spring to early autumn and they are very attractive, being narrowly tubular in shape to about 25-50 mm long with the ends of the tube turned backwards. The flowers are yellow to red in colour and are followed by yellow or red fleshy fruits about 12 – 15 mm diameter.
Mistletoes, generally, are not often cultivated as they are regarded as having a detrimental effect on their hosts. This is true if there is a severe infestation but is not likely in a controlled garden environment. It is unknown if Dendrophthoe vitellina can be readily cultivated but other species have been established simply by removing the sticky seeds from the fruit and attaching them to a suitable branch. This replicates the way they become established naturally where the fruits are eaten by birds and the seeds deposited in the bird’s droppings.
Photo: Brian Walters