Friday, June 26, 2009

Dwarf Mistletoe

From "Our Wildlife Heritage", Montana
1 May, 1962

by Lou Jonas

Here is a plant which makes it legitimate to kiss a pretty girl, furnishes a uniquely shaped wood used in Western furniture and building, and, on the scientific side, ejects a seed at about 100 times the launching speed of satellite rockets.

This is the only member of the mistletoe family known to Montana. It has been used in place of the much larger and showier American mistletoe to hang in doorways at Christmas time, but there are drawbacks. Most of these dwarfs are less conspicuous than the needles, so it may be necessary to carry a magnifying glass to prove your point.

Probably the most conspicuous sign of its presence is the "witches'-broom" which is frequently seen on evergreens. The "witches'-broom", in turn, is responsible for the peculiar malformed poles which are used in the manufacture of unusual furniture, and as supports for ceilings in many commercial places which desire a truly Western atmosphere.
A witches'-broom

The knotted Forest, extending through part of Montana and Wyoming, is a common source of this type of lodgepole log.

Scientists have timed the speed with which this plant ejects its tear-drop-shaped seed, and estimate it to be about 500 g. The initial acceleration of a typical satellite-launching rocket is between 5 and 10 g.

There are five species of dwarf mistletoe in Montana, most of them more prevalent in the western part. Each has a specific host on which is grows. The one which prefers lodgepole pine is fairly common in Bridger Canyon, near Bozeman, and, of course, in the Knotted Forest.

Another, which lives mostly on limber pine, is found only occasionally, but if one travels to the crates of the Moon, in Idaho, it came be observed on almost all the places in the monument. One species likes Ponderosa pine, another will be found on fir, and still another Western larch.

The leaves do dontain chlorophyll, so it is able to manufacture its own food, but obtains water and minerals salts from the tree. The flower is inconspicuous, and the fruits are tiny berries which cling to a limb, in case they are fortunate enough to land there, and then begin a new generation.

1 comment:

  1. Very Interesting I think I would like to see the dwarf mistletoe....Now I have a reason to go to Montana ~Blessings Heather ;-)
    p.s. I am really enjoying your father's writings on this blog