Saturday, January 31, 2009


I discovered another mistletoe plant growing on my Shui Mei plant outside my house again. The first time I discovered it, I was intrigued by this parasitic plant. I had no clue as to what it was but saw that the leaves were huge, thick and fleshy. I had thought that my Shui Mei had mutated. Later on, a horde of hairy caterpillars appeared and devoured all the leaves. They hatched into a dozen Painted Jezebel butterflies mentioned in an earlier post.

It was only after watching David Attenborough's Private Lives of Plants did I learn that it was a mistletoe plant growing right in front of my house. 

The mistletoe is propagated by birds, in this case probably by the sunbird that feeds on the Shui Mei flowers. The seed of the mistletoe is very sticky and pass through the gut of the bird just as sticky. The bird has to do a little dance routine to wipe the seed off its butt on a branch.

The mistletoe then takes root through an enlarged outgrowth called a haustorium. It is anologous to a placenta. The mistletoe then sprouts leaves which are a favorite of the Painted Jezebel caterpillars. Once hatched, the caterpillars strip the mistletoe bare leaving the leaves of the Shui Mei untouched. They migrate to the lower boughs of the Shui Mei and pupate.

When I think of the 3 players of this little drama, I couldn't help see the Generator, Operator and Destroyer (GOD) principle at work. This principle orchestrated by the One Supreme Intelligence manifests everywhere in nature. The agent of the Creator is the little sunbird, the Operator is the Shui Mei and the hairy horde of caterpillars destroys the mistletoe when its life works has been fulfilled. It is interesting to note that the caterpillars came only after the mistletoe had blossomed and fruited. I look forward to seeing the re-run of this little drama again.

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