My mistletoe seed with germinating embryo has been identified!

January 16, 2008 at 3:10 pm | Posted in Botany, Hampton Court Palace, London, Mistletoe, My photos, Natural History Museum, Nature, NHM, Parasites, Plants, Viscus album, Windsor, Windsor Great Park | 1 Comment

Germinating embryo of mistletoe seed (Viscum album) in Cranbourne Windsor Great Park 20 November 2007You asked me what it was that I photographed (click on that thumbnail for a larger picture), and I replied that I was not sure, but would ask the staff at the Botany Department of the Natural History Museum, London. I have to say they were very prompt and helpful. Yesterday, we exchanged emails, and it gives me great pleasure to share the answer with you, kids, since you encouraged me to follow up (persistence can bring its rewards) and a good link was supplied for further information:

Dear inel,

I would say that this is indeed a mistletoe seed, with what looks like a
green germinating embryo. A wealth of info about mistletoes in the UK is
available at http://www.mistletoe.org.uk/ if interested.

Kind regards,

Dr Peter Stafford,
Curation Division (Flowering Plants)
c/o Department of Botany,
The Natural History Museum,
Cromwell Road,
London SW7 5BD,
U.K.

This was in reply to my enquiry earlier the same day:

Dear NHM Botanists,

In November, I took a photo of a seed hanging on a tree and I would like
a botanist to identify it and perhaps tell me where I can find more information.

My guess is that I saw a mistletoe* seed, but I would like that confirmed
and any other information that might be useful for me to tell my
children, as they are intrigued too.

The photo is here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/inel/2194957100/
along with a few other photos of mistletoe clusters in the same tree
here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/inel/sets/72157603721247593/

Sincerely,

inel

* this is viscus album in Europe. (We have a different type of mistletoe in America.)

Words like viscous and viscosity were derived from the Latin viscus. It means sticky. The colour of mistletoe berries and this sticky fluid is white, or album, as in albino and albion. So, as you can see–and as you found out when a few berries were squashed—mistletoe is “sticky white”, and its berries were used to make glue long ago😉

By the way, did you also notice the group of eight white eggs that were laid on the surface of that autumnal hawthorn leaf? They went unnoticed … until I took a second look at the photograph I took in Cranbourne, Windsor Great Park in November 2007. I wonder what they might hatch into?

Here is a picture of mistletoe in Hampton Court Palace, back in November 2003:

Mistletoe clusters in tree at Hampton Court Palace 23 November 2003

1 Comment »

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  1. Wow, I’m impressed at how fast and helpful they are!


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