Western Australian Christmas Tree
Fascinating Information about Nuytsia floribunda's Behavior and Relatives
Nuytsia floribunda is one of the most spectacular Australian mistletoes, and the largest mistletoe in the world. This species with its massive summer display of fluorescent, yellow-orange flowers makes the traditional European Christmas mistletoe almost insignificant. Also, its looks may be deceiving as it looks just like an ordinary tree, but in fact it seeks out the roots of its neighboring plants and has even been seen invading PVC-wrapped telephone cables in a greedy search for water and minerals (Taylor, 2009). Another story came from Western Australian when the cable went out in a neighborhood so they dug up the cable lines to see what went wrong. they surprisingly found that haustoria had infested the the cable in numerous locations and had cut portions of the cable like a root.
Photo courtesy of a U.S. Geological Survey
Nuytsia floribunda also has very interesting relatives in the European mistletoe. These mistletoe organisms hold a very interesting tradition around Christmas time to forever remember their significance. According to the Scandinavian custom any male and female who meet under a hanging mistletoe are obligated to kiss. Mistletoe was the plant of peace in Scandinavian ancient times, and at any time if enemies met by chance beneath it in a forest, they stopped the battle and maintained a truce until the next day. This eventually led to tradition of kissing below hung mistletoe to signify peace at Christmas.
Photo by Bob Litchfield