Mistletoes

Tony Start has studied mistletoes in Western Australia for more than 30 years, with a particular emphasis on distributions, host relationships and fire. The mistletoe flora comprise 21 taxa, and they infect 153 species in 25 genera and 15 families. In healthy landscapes, each species lives in harmony with its hosts while contributing nectar to honeyeaters, fruit to the mistletoe bird and palatable leaves to herbivores. They thus play an important role in the whole ecosystem. Most mistletoe habitats are fire-prone. One species is probably capable of resprouting whereas all other taxa are obligate seeders. With no means of in situ seed storage, post-fire recovery depends on seed importation. Fire is the most pervasive (but not the only) threatening process operating today