Native red mistletoe for Christchurch
Christchurch residents can look forward to sharing a traditional Christmas kiss under the mistletoe in the next few years.
The threatened native red mistletoe (Peraxilla tetrapetala) was germinated in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens for the first time this year.
Sixteen red mistletoe seeds were donated to the Gardens in June in an attempt to help the native plant’s endangered population.
The Botanic Gardens team were gifted the seeds by an ecologist working on native mistletoe restoration projects for beech mistletoe in Arthur’s Pass, Christchurch City Council Ecologist Kristina Macdonald said.
‘‘We were looking into all of our native mistletoe species as part of our Backyard Mistletoe project which is aiming to regenerate green mistletoe in Christchurch city,’’ Macdonald said.
The seeds were sown to beech trees in the gardens in June by collection curator Dean Pendrigh.
‘‘From those 16 seeds we’ve had an amazing 11 seeds show signs of germination so we’re incredibly excited at what this could mean for the Botanic Gardens. This is a threatened species in New Zealand and, like the green mistletoe, it is an incredibly attractive food source for our native birds. To have it germinating and potentially flourishing in the central city is incredibly exciting.’’
She said the classically Christmas-style blooming mistletoe flowers, which were typically only found in mountainous areas such as the Craigieburn Valley, were still ’’a few years away’’.
‘‘It takes a while to establish a good connection with its host tree,’’ she said.
‘‘These plants won’t start flowering for around three years but we’re really hopeful that along with our green mistletoe, which is currently germinating across the city as part of the Backyard Mistletoe project, we’re going to have an abundance of wonderful native mistletoe species flourishing in the gardens.’’
Green mistletoe (Ileostylus micranthus) is currently found around the city including at Styx Reserve, Port Hills, Banks Penin- sula and in the Botanic Gardens.
The green flowered native plant was the focus of The Backyard Mistletoe Project, a project funded by Friends of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and the University of Canterbury, aiming to bring native green mistletoe into urban Christchurch.
Red mistletoe, one of the species of New Zealand native mistletoe, much favoured as a food source by possums, in flower at Arthur’s Pass.