Mistletoe makeover

Melbourne is getting the world’s first ‘mistletoe makeover’ to boost the ecology and biodiversity of our urban forest.

City of Melbourne arborists have used cherry pickers to plant seed from small, ripe, native creeping mistletoe fruits in 28 Plane trees in North Melbourne, Parkville, South Yarra and Southbank.

The goal of the project is for the mistletoe to germinate and establish in our tree canopies, providing food and shelter for a wide range of wildlife, including butterflies and birds.

International mistletoe expert Professor David Watson from Charles Sturt University is leading the project.

‘These experimental trials will be a world-first look at how different urban ecosystems may respond to the presence and abundance of mistletoe, and elucidate whether or not mistletoes are keystone resources in urban areas as well as natural areas,’ David said.

‘In addition to providing well-known ecological resources such as flowers and fruits, mistletoe in urban settings could also offer climate refuges for animals, bioremediation opportunities, air pollution reduction and mitigation of the urban heat island effect.’

Ecologists and arborists will monitor the outcomes of the trial, which is part of the City of Melbourne’s commitment to excellence in urban forest and ecology management.

Did you know?

While kissing under the mistletoe is a Christmas tradition, Australia’s 90 species of the plant also play a fundamental role in enhancing biodiversity.

For more information, visit Biodiversity research and monitoring.