Viscum ovalifolium DC.

Etymology Genus Latin for mistletoe or birdlime, an adhesive made from the plant's berries to catch birds
Species Oval-leafed
Family Santalaceae
Synonyms -
Common Names Oval-leaved Mistletoe
Status Native: Common
Form Hemi-parasitic epiphyte
Native Distribution Myanmar to Hong Kong, and southwards to northern Queensland. Throughout Malesia

Diagnostics:

One must first learn how to spot a mistletoe, which is obvious when a tree's foliage contains two distinctively different type of leaves; meaning that the one of them could be the parasitic mistletoe. Viscum ovalifolium can be easily differentiated from other mistletoes since it is the only species in Singapore with elongated leaves marked with parallel venation. Note that the leaves are also oppositely arranged.

While the leaves and stems are sometimes green, there are many instances when I have seen the leaves in yellow with the stems light brown to orange. This makes it very easy to spot from a distance. The fallen leaves which turn black after drying can be a useful guide too.


Interesting Facts:

Unlike other mistletoes, Viscum species do not have secondary haustoria that runs along its host. It is commonly recorded on Ficus species though it is also known to occur on many other species (Barlow, 1997). This appears to coincide with my observations in Singapore.


Yellowish leaves of the Oval-leaved Mistletoe parasitising on green leaved Ficus benjamina in Bidadari Cemetery.

Close-up of the mistletoe, this time having green leaves.

Leaves are elongated with veins parallel to leaf margins.

The dried leaves are black.

Point of attachment of the mistletoe to its host.

The flowers.

Fruits are berries that turned orange when ripe.


References

Barlow BA. (1997) Viscaceae. Flora Malesia, 13: 403-442.


Posted Date: 2013-03-13 / Modified Date: 2015-01-11