Mistletoes are pretty rare in the Abel Tasman thanks to a combination of possums, who love to browse on them, and stoats and rats reducing the populations of the birds who are responsible for pollinating them.
One of the unique features of mistletoes is that they have specialised “explosive” flowers which can only be opened by tūī, bellbirds and some insects. In the Abel Tasman you may see either of the red mistletoes, Peraxilla colenso or Peraxilla tetrapetala. If you look very carefully you may spot Korthalsella salicornioides, our dwarf mistletoe, which is found on mānuka and kānuka or Alepis flavida, which has yellow and orange flowers and has only ever been found in the Park once.
Mistletoe is semi-parasitic, which means it is capable of both photosynthesis through its green leaves and stems, while also plugged into its host tree for nutrients and water. Mistletoe is an important source of nectar for our specialist nectar-feeding birds and produces clusters of red berries in late summer.
A 2013, survey by the Department of Conservation found only 16 plants of the scarlet mistletoe, Peraxilla colensoi or piritain the Canaan area of the Park.The abundance of mistletoes should be a great indicator that we are winning the battle against predators and browsers in the park over the next few years.
If you see mistletoe in the park please report it via the ‘Have you Seen This?’ section of the Abel Tasman Phone App app