Drooping mistletoe Amyema pendulum, copyright Colin and Wendy Cook.

Belongs within: Santalales.

Australian mistletoes
Published 29 September 2019

Australia is home to a fair diversity of parasitic mistletoes, nearly ninety species in all. In a previous post, I described one of our most remarkable species, the terrestrial Nuytsia floribunda. But, of course, the remaining species occupy the more typical aerial mistletoe habitat, growing directly attached to the branches and trunk of their host. And within Australia, the most diverse mistletoe genus is Amyema.

Amyema pendula growing on Acacia, copyright Groogle.

Species of Amyema are found in southeast Asia, Australia, and islands of the Pacific as far east as Samoa. A revision of the genus by Barlow (1992) recognised 92 species with the greatest diversity in the Philippines, Australia and New Guinea. They are found in a range of habitats, from wet rainforests to arid woodlands. Some species (particularly in arid habitats) grow from a single central haustorium (the structure by which a parasitic plant attaches to and draws nutrients from its host); others (particularly rainforest species) produce numerous haustoria from runners stretching along the outside of the host. Most rainforest species tend to have low host specificity but those growin in arid habitats may be more likely to restrict themselves to a small number of host species. Those species which restrict themselves to a single host may have leaves closely resembling that host, making them difficult to spot within the host canopy.

Amyema species are mostly characterised by their flowers which are typical borne in triads with the triads often then being clustered in loose umbels. In some species, the triads are reduced to pairs or single flowers. The flowers themselves are bird-pollinated and have four to six long petals that are generally separated right to the base, at most forming only a very short tube at the base of the flower. The flowers are hermaphroditic though a study of some Australian species by Bernhardt et al. (1980) found a tendency for anthers to mature before the stigma, presumably to prevent self-pollination.

Flowers of Amyema miquelii, copyright Kevin Thiele.

Not surprisingly, attention on mistletoes in Australia has commonly been focused on their effect on host trees. Mistletoe infestations may be heavy and have commonly been blamed for tree mortalities. However, one might legitimately question whether mistletoes themselves cause fatalities: does mistletoe infestation cause a host tree to become unhealthy, or are unhealthy trees more vulnerable to infestation by mistletoes? A study by Reid et al. (1992) on Amyema preissii infesting Acacia victoriae found that, though there was a relationship between mistletoe volume and host mortality, they were unable to demonstrate that mistletoe removal improved host survival. Conversely, such a positive effect was found by Reid et al. (1994) for removal of Amyema miquelii growing on two Eucalyptus species (the methods of this latter study also include the great line, “the highest mistletoes had to be shot down with a .22 rifle”). However, the authors remained conservative when it came to advocating mistletoe removal. Not only do a number of native birds and other animals depend on mistletoes for food and nesting sites, mistletoe removal can be an expensive process and may not itself be devoid of adverse effects on the host tree. Where rates of infestation are not extreme, it may still be better to just live and let live.

Systematics of Amyema
<==Amyema Tieghem 1894 (see below for synonymy)B84
    |--*A. congener (Sieber ex Schultes & Schultes) Tieghem 1894 (see below for synonymy)B84
    |    |--A. c. ssp. congenerB84
    |    |--A. c. ssp. divergens Barlow 1983B84
    |    `--A. c. ssp. rotundifolium Barlow 1966B84
    |--A. angulare Barlow 1974B81
    |--A. apodum Barlow 1974B81
    |--A. artense (Mont.) Danser 1929 (see below for synonymy)B81
    |    |--A. a. var. artenseB81
    |    `--A. a. var. papuanum (Danser) Barlow 1974 [=A. papuana Danser 1938]B81
    |--A. benthamii (Blakely) Danser 1929 (see below for synonymy)B84
    |--A. bifurcatum (Benth.) Tieghem 1894 [=Loranthus bifurcatus Benth. 1867]B84
    |    |--A. b. var. bifurcatum (see below for synonymy)B84
    |    `--A. b. var. eburneum Barlow 1983B84
    |--A. biniflorum Barlow 1966B84
    |--A. brassii Barlow 1974B81
    |--A. cambagei (Blakely) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus cambagei Blakely 1922]B84
    |--A. canaliculatum Barlow 1974B81
    |--A. cercidioides (Krause) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus cercidioides Krause 1923]B81
    |--A. clavipes Danser 1936B81
    |--A. conspicuum (Bailey) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus conspicuus Bailey 1911]B84
    |    |--A. c. ssp. conspicuum [incl. Loranthus betchei Blakely 1922, A. betchei (Blakely) Danser 1929]B84
    |    |--A. c. ssp. fulvicalyx Barlow 1974B81
    |    `--A. c. ssp. obscurinerve Barlow 1966B84
    |--A. corniculatum Danser 1936B81
    |--A. curvifolium (Krause) Danser 1929 (n. d.) (see below for synonymy)B81
    |--A. dilatipes Barlow 1974B81
    |--A. dolichopodum Barlow 1983B84
    |--A. finisterrae (Warb.) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus finisterrae Warb. 1893; incl. L. diversifolius Ridl. 1916]B81
    |--A. fitzgeraldii (Blakely) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus fitzgeraldii Blakely 1922]B84
    |--A. friesianum (Schumann) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus friesianus Schumann in Schumann & Lauterb. 1905]B84
    |--A. gaudichaudii (DC.) Tieghem 1895 (see below for synonymy)B84
    |--A. gibberulum (Tate) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus gibberulus Tate 1886]B84
    |    |--A. g. var. gibberulumB84
    |    `--A. g. var. tatei (Blakely) Barlow 1966 [=Loranthus gibberulus var. tatei Blakely 1922]B84
    |--A. glabrum (Domin) Danser 1929 (see below for synonymy)B84
    |--A. haematodes (Schwarz) Danser 1933 [=Loranthus haematodes Schwarz 1928]B84
    |--A. hastifolium (Ridl.) Danser 1931 [=Loranthus hastifolius Ridl. 1916]B81
    |--A. herbertianum Barlow 1966B84
    |--A. hillianum (Blakely) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus hillianus Blakely 1922]B84
    |--A. involvens Barlow 1974B81
    |--A. kebarense Barlow 1974B81
    |--A. linophyllum (Fenzl) Teighem 1894 [=Loranthus linophyllus Fenzl in Endl. et al. 1837]B84
    |    |--A. l. ssp. linophyllumB84
    |    `--A. l. ssp. orientale Barlow 1966B84
    |--A. lucasii (Blakely) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus lucasii Blakely 1922]B84
    |--A. mackayense (Blakely) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus mackayensis Blakely 1922]B84
    |    |--A. m. ssp. mackayenseB84
    |    `--A. m. ssp. cycnei-sinus (Blakely) Barlow 1966 (see below for synonymy)B84
    |--A. maidenii (Blakely) Barlow 1962 [=Loranthus maidenii Blakely 1922, Diplatia maidenii (Blakely) Danser 1929]B84
    |    |--A. m. ssp. maideniiB84
    |    `--A. m. ssp. angustifolium Barlow 1966B84
    |--A. melaleucae (Lehm. ex Miq.) Tieghem 1895 (see below for synonymy)B84
    |--A. microphyllum Barlow 1983B84
    |--A. miquelii (Lehm. ex Miq.) Tieghem 1894 (see below for synonymy)B84
    |--A. miraculosum (Miq.) Tieghem 1895 [=Loranthus miraculosus Miq. in Lehm. 1845]B84
    |    |--A. m. ssp. miraculosum [incl. A. apiculatum Tieghem ex Danser 1937]B84
    |    `--A. m. ssp. boormanii (Blakely) Barlow 1966 (see below for synonymy)B84
    |--A. nestor (Moore) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus nestor Moore 1897]B84
    |--A. novae-brittanniae (Sch.) Danser 1929 (see below for synonymy)B81
    |--A. obovatum Danser 1931B81
    |--A. pachypus (Burk.) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus pachypus Burk. 1899]B81
    |--A. pendulum (Sieber ex Sprengel) Tieghem 1894 (see below for synonymy)B84
    |    |--A. p. ssp. pendulumB84
    |    `--A. p. ssp. longifolium (Hook.) Barlow 1966 (see below for synonymy)B84
    |--A. pentactis Danser 1940B81
    |--A. preissii (Miq.) Tieghem 1895 (see below for synonymy)B84
    |--A. pyriformisLK14
    |--A. quandang (Lindley) Tieghem 1894 [=Loranthus quandang Lindley in Mitchell 1838]B84
    |    |--A. q. var. quandang (see below for synonymy)B84
    |    `--A. q. var. bancroftii (Bailey) Barlow 1966 [=Loranthus quandang var. bancroftii Bailey 1912]B84
    |--A. quaternifolium Barlow 1966B84
    |--A. queenslandicum (Blakely) Danser 1929 (see below for synonymy)B84
    |--A. sanguineum (Muell.) Danser 1929 (see below for synonymy)B84
    |    |--A. s. var. sanguineum (see below for synonymy)B84
    |    `--A. s. var. pulchrum (Ewart) Barlow 1966 [=Loranthus sanguineus var. pulcher Ewart 1911]B84
    |--A. scandens (Tiegh.) Danser 1929 (see below for synonymy)B81
    |    |--A. s. ssp. scandensB81
    |    |--A. s. ssp. crassifolium Barlow 1974B81
    |    `--A. s. ssp. plicatulum (Krause) Barlow 1974 (see below for synonymy)B81
    |--A. seemenianum (Schumann) Danser 1929B84 (see below for synonymy)
    |    |--A. s. ssp. seemenianumB84
    |    |--A. s. ssp. flexuosum Barlow 1974B84
    |    `--A. s. ssp. melastomifolium (Krause) Barlow 1974 (see below for synonymy)B81
    |--A. squarrosum (Krause) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus squarrosus Krause 1922]B81
    |    |--A. s. ssp. squarrosumB81
    |    `--A. s. ssp. rhopalanthes (Danser) Barlow 1974 [=A. rhopalanthes Danser 1936]B81
    |--A. strongylophyllum (Laut.) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus strongylophyllus Laut. 1912]B81
    |    |--A. s. ssp. strongylophyllumB81
    |    |--A. s. ssp. barbellatum (Blakely) Barlow 1974 (see below for synonymy)B81
    |    `--A. s. ssp. rigidiflorum (Krause) Barlow 1974 (see below for synonymy)B81
    |--A. subcapitatum Barlow 1983B84
    |--A. tetraflorum (Barlow) Barlow 1974 [=Ungula tetraflora Barlow 1974]B81
    |--A. tetrapetalum (Danser) Barlow 1974 [=Dicymanthes tetrapetala Danser 1940]B81
    |--A. thalassium Barlow 1962 [=Loranthus maritimus Gardner 1923 non Merrill 1914]B84
    |--A. villiflorum (Domin) Barlow 1966 [=Loranthus quandang var. villiflorus Domin 1921]B84
    |    |--A. v. ssp. villiflorum [incl. L. betchei var. dubius Blakely 1922]B84
    |    `--A. v. ssp. tomentillum (Blakely) Barlow 1966 (see below for synonymy)B84
    |--A. whitei (Blakely) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus whitei Blakely 1922, Pilostigma whitei (Blakely) Barlow 1962]B84
    `--A. wichmannii (Krause) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus wichmannii Krause 1922]B81
         |--A. w. ssp. wichmanniiB81
         |--A. w. ssp. aggregatum Barlow 1974B81
         `--A. w. ssp. purum Barlow 1974 [incl. L. keysseri Krause 1929]B81

Amyema Tieghem 1894 [=Loranthus sect. Amyema (Tieghem) Engl. 1897; incl. Pilostigma Tieghem 1894, Loranthus sect. Pilostigma (Tieghem) Engl. 1897, Xylochlamys Domin 1921]B84

Amyema artense (Mont.) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus artensis Mont. 1860, Neophylum artense (Mont.) Tiegh. 1896; incl. L. bamleri Sch. 1901, Amyema bamleri (Sch.) Danser 1929, A. gracilis Danser 1931, Loranthus iboensis Krause 1922, A. iboensis (Krause) Danser 1929]B81

Amyema benthamii (Blakely) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus benthamii Blakely 1922; incl. L. pendulus var. amplexifolius Benth. 1867, L. quandang var. amplexifolius Benth. 1867 non L. pendulus var. amplexifolius Benth. 1867]B84

Amyema bifurcatum (Benth.) Tieghem 1894 var. bifurcatum [incl. Loranthus ferruginiflorus Fitzg. 1918, A. ferruginiflorum (Fitzg.) Danser 1929, L. ferruginiflorus var. linearifolius Blakely 1922, *Xylochlamys queenslandica Domin 1921, L. pendulus var. taenifolius Domin 1921, Amyema xylochlamys Danser 1933]B84

*Amyema congener (Sieber ex Schultes & Schultes) Tieghem 1894 [=Loranthus congener Sieber ex Schultes & Schultes 1829, Dendrophthoe congener (Sieber ex Schultes & Schultes) Martius 1830, L. pendulus var. congener (Sieber ex Schultes & Schultes) Domin 1921]B84

Amyema curvifolium (Krause) Danser 1929 (n. d.) [=Loranthus curvifolius Krause 1922; incl. L. heterochromus Krause 1922, Amyema heterochromum (Krause) Danser 1929]B81

Amyema gaudichaudii (DC.) Tieghem 1895 [=Loranthus gaudichaudii DC. 1830, Dendrophthoe gaudichaudii (DC.) Don 1834; incl. L. pendulus var. parviflorus Benth. 1866]B84

Amyema glabrum (Domin) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus glaber Domin 1921; incl. L. obliquus Blakely 1922, Amyema obliquum (Blakely) Danser 1929]B84

Amyema mackayense ssp. cycnei-sinus (Blakely) Barlow 1966 [=Loranthus cycnei-sinus Blakely 1922, A. cycnei-sinus (Blakely) Danser 1929]B84

Amyema melaleucae (Lehm. ex Miq.) Tieghem 1895 [=Loranthus melaleucae Lehm. ex Miq. in Lehm. 1845, L. miraculosus var. melaleucae (Lehm. ex Miq.) Blakely 1922, L. pendulus var. melaleucae (Lehm. ex Miq.) Tate 1880; incl. A. leschenaultii Tieghem 1895]B84

Amyema miquelii (Lehm. ex Miq.) Tieghem 1894 [=Loranthus miquelii Lehm. ex Miq. in Lehm. 1845, Dendrophthoe miquelii (Lehm. ex Miq.) Ettingsh. 1872, L. pendulus var. miquelii (Lehm. ex Miq.) Domin 1921; incl. L. aurantiacus Cunn. ex Hook. in Mitchell 1848, Amyema aurantiacum (Cunn. ex Hook.) Tieghem 1894, L. miquelii var. micranthus Muell. ex Miq. 1856 non L. micranthus Hooker 1853, L. miquelii var. minor Blakely 1922]B84

Amyema miraculosum ssp. boormanii (Blakely) Barlow 1966 [=Loranthus miraculosus var. boormanii Blakely 1922, A. miraculosum var. boormanii (Blakely) Eichler 1965; incl. L. miraculosus var. pubiger Blakely 1922, L. bifurcatus var. queenslandicus Domin 1921]B84

Amyema novae-brittanniae (Sch.) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus novae-brittanniae Sch. 1905; incl. L. jambosae Schulze 1936, Amyema jambosae (Schulze) Danser 1936]B81

Amyema pendulum (Sieber ex Sprengel) Tieghem 1894 [=Loranthus pendulus Sieber ex Sprengel 1827, Dendrophthoe pendula (Sieber ex Sprengel) Martius 1830]B84

Amyema pendulum ssp. longifolium (Hook.) Barlow 1966 non A. acacioides var. longifolium Specht 1958 [=Loranthus longifolius Hook. 1851, A. longifolium (Hook.) Tieghem 1895]B84

Amyema preissii (Miq.) Tieghem 1895 [=Loranthus preissii Miq. in Lehm. 1845, L. linophyllus var. preissii (Miq.) Ostenf. 1921; incl. L. preissii var. didymus Blakely 1922, L. scoparius Miq. in Lehm. 1845, Amyema scoparium (Miq.) Tieghem 1895]B84

Amyema quandang (Lindley) Tieghem 1894 var. quandang [incl. Loranthus pendulus var. canescens Muell. & Tate 1896, L. canus Muell. 1856, Amyema canum (Muell.) Tieghem 1895, L. cunninghamii Gray 1854, L. nutans Cunn. ex Hook. in Mitchell 1848 non Sprengel 1825, Amyema nutans Tieghem 1895, L. pruinosus Cunn. ex Ettingsh. 1872, A. pruinosum (Cunn. ex Ettingsh.) Tieghem 1895, Dendrophthoe pruinosa (Cunn. ex Ettingsh.) Ettingsh. 1872]B84

Amyema queenslandicum (Blakely) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus queenslandicus Blakely 1922 non L. bifurcatus var. queenslandicus Domin 1921]B84

Amyema sanguineum (Muell.) Danser 1929 [=Loranthus sanguineus Muell. 1859, *Pilostigma sanguineum (Muell.) Tieghem 1894; incl. L. celastroides var. longicarpeus Domin 1921]B84

Amyema sanguineum (Muell.) Danser 1929 var. sanguineum [incl. Pilostigma brevipes Tieghem 1894, A. brevipes (Tieghem) Danser 1929, Loranthus brevipes (Tieghem) Engl. 1897, Pilostigma muelleri Tieghem 1894, Amyema muelleri (Tieghem) Danser 1929, Loranthus muelleri (Tieghem) Engl. 1897, L. spathulatus Schwarz 1927, Amyema spathulatum (Schwarz) Danser 1933]B84

Amyema scandens (Tiegh.) Danser 1929 [=Neophylum scandens Tiegh. 1894, Loranthus scandens (Tiegh.) Engl. 1897; incl. L. caudiciflorus Laut. 1910, Amyema caudiciflora (Laut.) Danser 1929, A. cephalanthera Danser 1936, A. duurenii Barlow 1964, Loranthus gigantifolius Krause 1923, A. gigantifolia (Krause) Danser 1929, L. verticillifolius Krause 1922, A. verticillifolia (Krause) Danser 1929]B81

Amyema scandens ssp. plicatulum (Krause) Barlow 1974 [=Loranthus plicatulus Krause 1923, A. plicatula (Krause) Danser 1929; incl. A. ovariosa Danser 1931]B81

Amyema seemenianum (Schumann) Danser 1929B84 [=Loranthus seemenianus Schumann in Schumann & Hollrung 1889B84; incl. L. articulatus Krause 1922B81, Amyema articulata (Krause) Danser 1929B81]

Amyema seemenianum ssp. melastomifolium (Krause) Barlow 1974 [=Loranthus melastomatifolius Krause 1922 B81, A. melastomifolia (Krause) Danser 1929]B81

Amyema strongylophyllum ssp. barbellatum (Blakely) Barlow 1974 [=Loranthus barbellatus Blakely 1922, A. barbellata (Blakely) Danser 1929]B81

Amyema strongylophyllum ssp. rigidiflorum (Krause) Barlow 1974 [=Loranthus rigidiflorus Krause 1922, A. rigidiflora (Krause) Danser 1929; incl. L. obtusus Krause 1922]B81

Amyema villiflorum ssp. tomentillum (Blakely) Barlow 1966 [=Loranthus betchei var. tomentillus Blakely 1922, A. villiflorum ssp. tomentellum]B84

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B81] Barlow, B. A. 1981. Loranthaceae. In: Henty, E. E. (ed.) Handbooks of the Flora of Papua New Guinea vol. 2 pp. 206–254. Melbourne University Press.

[B84] Barlow, B. A. 1984. Loranthaceae. In: George, A. S. (eds) Flora of Australia vol. 22. Rhizophorales to Celastrales pp. 68–131. Australian Government Publishing Service: Canberra.

Barlow, B. A. 1992. Conspectus of the genus Amyema Tieghem (Loranthaceae). Blumea 36: 293–381.

Bernhardt, P., R. B. Knox & D. M. Calder. 1980. Floral biology and self-incompatibility in some Australian mistletoes of the genus Amyema (Loranthaceae). Australian Journal of Botany 28: 437–451.

[LK14] Lyons, M. N., G. J. Keighery, L. A. Gibson & T. Handasyde. 2014. Flora and vegetation communities of selected islands off the Kimberley coast of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 81: 205–244.

Reid, N., D. M. Stafford Smith & W. N. Venables. 1992. Effect of mistletoes (Amyema preissii) on host (Acacia victoriae) survival. Australian Journal of Ecology 17: 219–222.

Reid, N., Z. Yan & J. Fittler. 1994. Impact of mistletoes (Amyema miquelii) on host (Eucalyptus blakelyi and Eucalyptus melliodora) survival and growth in temperate Australia. Forest Ecology and Management 70: 55–65.

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