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Conservation

Mistletoe seeding

On Sunday the 16th of May, a group of Friends of Horsenden volunteers led by Ealing rangers Jon Staples and James Morton seeded mistletoe onto several of the trees on Horsenden hill.

Considered sacred by druids, mistletoe is sometimes incorrectly thought of as harmful, owing to its semi parasitic nature. Whilst it does tap small amounts of water from its host, it is not thought to be detrimental to an otherwise healthy tree. Rare in Ealing, assisting mistletoe to grow here is part of the borough’s biodiversity plan.

After an explanation and demonstration from James, we took turns squishing the mistletoe berries and placing them in little crevices on tree limbs, mimicking the way that a mistletoe thrush would wipe the mucilage off its beak after scoffing a berry, which is how mistletoe is naturally seeded onto new trees.

We seeded mostly wild growing apple trees, and crab apples, a medlar, and a hawthorn.

We’ll need to wait a few years to see which trees seeds successfully took, and we might repeat the outing in subsequent years on other suitable trees such as rowan and field maple.

Photography by James Morton.