Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Ivy and Mistletoe at the Butterfly Park


Cross section through hawthorn with ivy surrounding the branch
Cross section through hawthorn with ivy surrounding the branch


We decided to fell one dying ivy-laden hawthorn, as it hung over the path. The photograph above shows the cross section through the sawn trunk. The hawthorn is the brown wood, the ivy the white wood. So more ivy than hawthorn! Ivy is an excellent plant for wildlife with flowers in autumn that are rich in nectar for insects feeding up before hibernation. Then berries ripen in January for the birds and there is shelter at any time of year for insects and small birds. However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, and ivy can take advantage of dying trees to develop a large crown which then makes the tree likely to break. So encourage ivy - but in the right place.


Sawn down hawthorn tree
Sawn down hawthorn tree


This is also a good time to see mistletoe as the leaves have fallen from the apple trees.


Mistletoe on apple tree
Mistletoe on apple tree


We introduced mistletoe to New Ferry Butterfly Park over a decade ago, partly as an educational plant to talk about parasitism in plants. It is flourishing on our various self-sown apple trees, and has spread to a hawthorn. The berries are not properly ripe till January or February, which is when the blackcaps and mistle thrushes will eat them.


Mistletoe on apple tree
Mistletoe on apple tree


However, for people there is no kissing under it this year - except within your household or Bubble!

Hilary Ash


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