Pucker Up: New Mistletoe Species Discovered in Africa


Image: Digger Pine Dwarf Mistletoe, via USDA Forestry Service

It looks like there's yet another reason for some holiday cheer this season: Scientists have discovered a new, exotic species of mistletoe in Mozambique. The new mistletoe is rather striking looking -- folks might hesitate before pecking beneath this plant, at least before the third or fourth round at the office Christmas party.Unfortunately, the new mistletoe is presumed to be threatened, due to habitat threats and its limited distribution. Here's Time on the discovery:

Chief among this year's finds -- or, at least, the most seasonally relevant of this year's finds -- is a new species of tropical, wild mistletoe from Mozambique, Helixanthera schizocalyx. The species, named this year, was discovered a few years back during a Kew expedition to Mount Mabu on the north of the nation. It was one of several new species that Kew stumbled upon during a 2008 trip to a remote enclave the group now refers to as the 'lost forest.' Parasitic in nature, the plant is considered endangered both because of its limited range and because of the threat of its habitat as Mozambique, after years of war, expands its agricultural and forestry sectors.
The plant only gets to be 50 centimeters long, and grows small flowers at the end of its branches. Unlike most mistletoe species, the flowers are adapted to insect pollination instead of bird pollination.

So even though 2010 was chock full of bad news on the environmental front, small, inspiring discoveries like this help give wearying greens the motivation to push on. Happy holidays -- and pucker up.

More on Newly Discovered Species
Fascinating New Species Found in Papua New Guinea
35000 New Species Could Be Hidden in Cupboards
Incredible New Species Discovered in Ecuador

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