Mistletoes of Western Australia¦BOOK REVIEW

By: Tony Start, Kevin Thiele

Paperback | March 2023 | $ 59.99
ISBN: 9781486316144 | 152 pages | 245 x 170 mm
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Colour photographs, Illustrations, Maps

  • Is a parasite a pest? Are Christmas trees really mistletoes?
  • Are mistletoes harmful or beneficial? How does fire affect them?
  • Do they have roots? Why do they mimic their hosts?
  • Are they related to the English mistletoe of Christmas fame?
  • What other plant parasites do we have?

These are some of the questions that are addressed in this interesting book, which begins with an overview of parasitic plants in general. It not only covers the biology and ecological role of mistletoes, and their biogeography, but also provides a key to all the species of mistletoes of WA, 11 of which occur in the South-west. Then there is an account of each species, with diagnostic features, photographs, a distribution map, and other information such as which trees they parasitise.

The book is designed for people with some biological knowledge but has a useful glossary for those not familiar with all the terms. And there is a list of references and further reading. I found the information on the ecological role of mistletoes very enlightening, and the clear photographs of leaves, flowers and fruit bring out the beauty of these plants that we tend to overlook. A copy will be in the Nats’ Club library soon.

Mike Gregson