I just made an exciting discovery! There are loads of cool videos about epiphytes, vines, mistletoes online. I'll share a few in the blog for this week but encourage you to check all the rest out for yourself!
This video features Jennifer Sanger and Gerhard Zotz, both of whom have been involved with the NZ Epiphyte Network!
This clip uses exciting field work and an awesome soundtrack together to make a very good sell for canopy research!
Great botanical information in this video, check out how many species there are that are similar to ours in NZ:
In some parts of the world, ant garden epiphytes are very common. Arboreal ants build shelters out of vegetable fibers, refuse, feces and secretions in which to house their nests. During or after this building, the seeds of "ant-garden" epiphyte species (such as Hydnophytum) are brought into the nests where they happily germinate. The seeds of some epiphyte species produce a chemical which is similar to ant pheromones and may act as an attractant.
The epiphyte seeds grow within the ant nest. These epiphyte species provide extra habitat their ant friends by threading roots throughout or providing hollow stems. In return, the ants defend their new castle from herbivores and the waste and detritus produced by the colony feeds the epiphytes and protects them from severe drought.
In some cases it, the records I've read suggest the plant grows and THEN the ants inhabit it. Which ever way it works, it seems like a pretty awesome relationship!
European mistletoe species belonging to the genus Viscum have been used for medicinal purposes since the time of the Druids and ancient Greeks. Mistletoe has been used to treat medical conditions such as epilepsy, hypertension, headaches, menopausal symptoms, infertility, arthritis, and rheumatism. There is a lot of recent interest in its application for cancer treatment.
In some European countries, extracts made from European mistletoe are among the most prescribed therapies for cancer patients. The composition and effectiveness of these treatments varies according to the species used, the host tree species and the time of year it is harvested.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of mistletoe as a treatment for cancer or any other medical condition.
So what about New Zealand's mistletoes? I've been on a bit of a hunt for records of their medicinal use, there really isn't much information available. This likely means that there has not been much use of these plants for medicinal purposes such as rongoa, or the information is not published, or it has been lost. Here is what I found:
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I work with NZ's native vascular epiphytes at the University of Waikato. I completed an MSc on epiphyte ecology and the shrub epiphyte Griselinia lucida and have recently published the Field Guide to NZ's Epiphytes, Vines & Mistletoes.