Just a little thing

On a drive across the plains earlier in the week a flash of crimson caught my eye, enough to cause me to stop and linger for a while amongst a roadside stand of Bulokes.

The crimson was from Buloke Mistletoe Amyema linophylla, a rare parasite that grows on only two hosts, Buloke Allocasuarina luehmannii and Belah Casuarina pauper.

Buloke Mistletoe is only found on a small proportion, perhaps less than 5%, of the Buloke growing on the plains. The host is the signature tree of Buloke woodland, once a widespread and common ecosystem, now extensively cleared and consequently threatened. Buloke woodlands of the Murray Darling and Riverina are of major conservation importance.

As I admired the splendid mistletoe a flock of Yellow Thornbills appeared above me. Also known as the Little Thornbill, the party foraged happily for a while before moving on.

I’m pleased that I bothered to stop.

Bulokes, Moolort Plains, 6th January 2020

Buloke (male flowers)

Buloke (female flowers)

Buloke Mistletoe

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Yellow Thornbill in Buloke

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8 responses to “Just a little thing

  1. Hello Geoff, the flash of crimson that caught my eye in my Castlemaine garden this week was, I think, a Scarlet Honeyeater. Never seen one before, and it was just that – a flash. Possible do you think?

    • HI Jill – that is very possible, either a Scarlet Honeyeater (there have been a few reported around Castlemaine) or the other possibility is a male Mistletoebird. Hope you might catch a better glimpse to confirm and enjoy. Cheers, Geoff

  2. Hi Geoff,

    In case you haven’t heard there is a leucistic Welcome Swallow on the oval at Maryborough next to the lake. Fairly easy to find but crank up your speed when trying for a photograph.

    Regards,

    Gary Sent from my iPad

    >

  3. Hi Geoff,
    Thanks for this lovely article on Buloke Mistletoe- it is one of my favourite mistletoes! Here in the Black Range south of Stawell we have four species of mistletoes growing naturally with a fifth species, Creeping Mistletoe growing on River Red Gums nearby!
    We have successfully grown Buloke Mistletoe on our Drooping Sheoke Allocasuarina verticillata, but sadly they have been killed by persistent grazing by our Sugar Gliders- one of the major natural controllers of mistletoe in the wild!
    They are relatively easy to grow on your own Buloke by collecting ripe juicy fruits and squeezing them on to the lower side of a young branch. We have found that they take far more readily on the lower side than the upper side!! Next time we will put a wire mesh guard around the young plants until they are well established.
    With numerous mistletoes on our property we have lots of mistletoe dependant wildlife, including the Sugar Gliders mentioned above. We also have regular Painted Honeyeaters visiting as well as Ogyris butterflies and Mistletoe Moths! Mistletoes certainly are a vital part of our natural biodiversity!
    Regards
    Neil Marriott

    • Many thanks for your note Neil and good to hear from you. Great to point out what a valuable plant this is, as are all the native mistletoes. Buloke Mistletoe is safe from Sugar Gliders on the plains but sadly as the old Bulokes senesce we keep losing their companions as well. Appreciate the tip on propagation – I have a couple of Bulokes in the garden and will give it a try in 2021. All the best, Geoff

  4. John Carruthers

    Thank you @Geoff – and @Neil. We recently planted quite a few Allocasuarina luehmannii on our property. Patiently we await their growth. We’ll fiddle with some mistletoe when they’re a bit older. Thanks for the inspiration and the tips!

  5. I’m glad you stopped too Geoff, those mistletoes are spikily amazing, nothing like we get here in Sth Gippsland. Nice to see Yellow Thornbills again, I’ve not seen them for years. Thanks for another great post. Neil’s comments were interesting too.

  6. It’s wonderful to learn something new! Thanks for this insight into bulokes with the use your sharp eyes.

    PAR

    On Sat, Jan 9, 2021 at 11:42 AM Natural Newstead wrote:

    > Geoff Park posted: “On a drive across the plains earlier in the week a > flash of crimson caught my eye, enough to cause me to stop and linger for a > while amongst a roadside stand of Bulokes. The crimson was from Buloke > Mistletoe Amyema linophylla, a rare parasite that grow” >

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