Hold off putting up your usual variety of mistletoe – the dwarf mistletoe could soon eclipse its better-known Christmas cousins as the green fertility symbol of choice for holiday party goers. In fact, the discovery of the intimate details of the sex life of the dwarf mistletoe is even getting traditionally staid botanists hot and bothered.
New research shows that the dwarf mistletoe, a member of the same Viscaceae family as the better-known Christmas varieties, is truly worthy of being hung with pride. The stubby variety might be a clumpy green parasite of conifers, but it turns out to have the world’s only water-pump seed ejection system. One that can fire a seed up to a dazzling 20 meters (65 feet). So who are you calling a dwarf now?
"The dwarf species I studied in Manitoba has a gestation period of one-and-a-half years, after which the seed blasts out of the fruit. This extreme buildup of water pressure as a seed dispersal system is rare in the plant world," says Dr. Cynthia Ross, an assistant professor at the University College of the Cariboo in Kamloops, British Columbia.
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