Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Had Mistletoe for Christmas and didn't know it

I went up on a ladder to cut some "suckers" (branches that shoot straight up) out of my Carambola tree. Noticed a bunch of leaves that did not match those of the tree. Looking further I could see a vine wrapped around the branches. Parts of it were glued tight and some just a dangling vine. I assumed a strangling fig or Ficus. The neighbors called it "malojo" (evil eye) and said that birds eat the seeds and then deposit them in their poop. Still didn't tell me what the English or scientific name was until I found an article on Mexconnect below. Gonna get my saw back from Ron today so I can cut out the last little bit.

My tree with the embedded starting point
Not the Christmas kind of Mistletoe

An embedded "root"

Of the Mexican mistletoes, some are herbaceous; others are vine-like, even treelike. Their leaves and flowers vary but several have tubular orange flowers growing wherever there is sufficient light. Phoradendron species are "hemiparasites", meaning that they are capable of some photosynthesis and have green leaves, unlike Cuscuta. Various birds including thrushes and tanagers feed heavily on mistletoe berries. Their sticky droppings deposited on branches contain the seeds which give rise to future mistletoe plants. Phoradendron flowers are well adapted to pollination by hummingbirds, though bees and other insects also help. 

One of these mistletoes, locally called "Mal Ojo" (Evil Eye), is very much in evidence at present in the Chapala area. Left to its own devices, it will quickly kill its host trees. It is so prolific that it seems in many cases that the whole tree is in flower; unfortunately, it is not the tree's flowers that are such a dramatic orange in color but the parasite's. 

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The construction of the house finished in April 2011 and I'm pretty much settled in. As of March 2014 I'm in preparation for rain mode for this coming summer. That includes sealing and painting things and dealing with drainage issues from last year.

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