Author(s): David M. Watson
Mistletoes are an enigmatic group of plants. Lacking roots and depending on other plants for their livelihood, they have inspired a range of beliefs throughout the world. Some people regard them as mystical plants endowed with magical properties, others as destructive weeds that devalue native habitats, and still others as beautiful native plants that support wildlife. This book represents the first thorough treatment of mistletoes in Australia. It summarises their evolutionary origin and global distribution, highlighting diversity patterns in Australasia, and describes the ecology and life history of mistletoes, detailing the variety of animals that depend on them for food and shelter. The book discusses the cultural significance of mistletoes, compares imported European beliefs with home-grown Indigenous lore and looks at the role of mistletoe in contemporary art, design and medicine. It also explores the management of mistletoes, noting those situations where mistletoe becomes too abundant and offering practical solutions to achieve a more balanced outcome. Finally, there is a guide to identifying mistletoes, including detailed species accounts for all 46 species found in southern Australia. With 51 specially commissioned watercolours by artist Robyn Hulley and more than 130 colour photographs, Mistletoes of Southern Australia is the definitive authority on these intriguing native plants.