Mistletoe on Oaks in Shropshire - an update

Shropshire Botanical Society Newsletter - Autumn 2000 - page 7

Alex Lockton & Sarah Whild


An article appeared in the BSBI's journal Watsonia, this summer, written by John Box, who has been researching the incidence of mistletoe on oak. His account of this phenomenon in Shropshire contains an unfortunate error, so it would be valuable to publish a corrected account here.

Box mentions two records by Ellen Heywood-Waddington for Neen Savage (SO67), dated 1967 and 1976, which he received from the Biological Records Centre. Apparently the branch of the oak on which the mistletoe was growing "fell off some two years after [the] 1976 record was sent in." That record is accepted.

He also mentions the mistletoe-oak at Dowles Manor, which L.C. Lloyd described as being "just inside the Shropshire border." Unfortunately, Box decided to change the vice county from 40 to 37, which is Worcestershire. That would have been correct if he had been working to the modern county boundary, but vice county boundaries do not change with local government reorganisation, so the record was correct originally, and should be retained for Shropshire. Unfortunately, the mistletoe is apparently no longer there, although the oak tree apparently is.

Finally, and rather curiously, our researches have revealed another possible site for mistletoe on oak since John asked us for our records. This is from the tithe map of 1840, and refers to a field called "Mizzletoe Oak" at the foot of the Wenlock Edge, ca. SO566966. It seems reasonable to consider this to be a record, of sorts, although the precise date would be difficult to ascertain. One should never discount unlikely sources of information, however. Perhaps the site is still worth a visit?

These three records are all that we currently have about mistletoe on oak in Shropshire. We would like to acknowledge in full the contribution made by John Box to the study of mistletoe on oak. The reference is Box, J.D. 2000. Mistletoe Viscum album L., (Loranthaceae) on oaks in Britain. Watsonia 23: 237-256.


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