Mistletoe in May

Last week some of us took part in a small side project. We helped Ealing rangers spreading Mistletoe berries, to support Ealing’s biodiversity action plan. We have also started our tree tending evenings to keep up with the -now very fast growing- weeds and grasses.

Mistletoe (Viscum album) is a very scarce plant in Ealing and a priority species under the borough’s biodiversity action plan. It has a hemiparasitic life cycle, growing on trees from which it extracts water. In nature the seeds are spread by birds, notably Mistle Thrush. Last week we gave Ealing park rangers and nature a helping hand by spreading Mistletoe seed onto apple trees, a favoured host species.

The seeds are surrounded by a thick mucilaginous slime that literally glues them to the bark. In time we hope they will germinate and grow into mature plants which can then seed and spread naturally. We don’t know exactly why Mistletoe was almost lost to Ealing, but we aim to work to bring about the return of unique and remarkable species.

If the seeds germinate and grow into new plants, we will record them on this map (Mistletoe in Ealing)

In addition to the Mistletoe project we have started to document the old fruit trees in the area covered by our trail. Map (Veteran fruit trees in Ealing) Some of the old trees are already looked after by us. We take away dead and damaged wood and protect them against rabbit damage if we can.

Not all old trees are easily accessible, but some are part of our existing orchards and you can take some fruit from them if you wish. In the coming months we will add information about the old trees to the map, e.g. if the fruit is for cooking or can be eaten raw (dessert).

And last but not least……

We are very happy to have welcomed new volunteers in the last couple of weeks. If you want to help us keeping our orchards healthy, you’re welcome to join us anytime. Please register as a volunteer to get regular updates of when and where we work.