T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Tupeia antarctica (White mistletoe)

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Spermatophyta
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Santalales
Family: Loranthaceae (mistletoe)
Genus: Tupeia
Species: T. antarctica
Binominal name: Tupeia antarctica
Synonyms: Viscum antarcticum, Viscum pubigerum, Tupeia cunninghamii, Tupeia pubigera
Common names: Kohourangi; Mistletoe (NZ); Pirinoa; Pirita; Tāpia; White mistletoe.

Tupeia antarctica is a small, shrubby, endemic, parasite found throughout New Zealand’s North and South Islands but with a predominantly eastern distribution. Tupeia antarctica is semi-parasitic, this means they use specially adapted roots to extract water and nutrients from the stem tissues of their host plant, but they also produce their own energy through photosynthetic green leaves. It has a wide range of hosts (37+) including Carpodetus serratus, Nestegis lanceolate, Chamaecytisis palmensis, species of Coprosma, Pittosporum, Genisteae and Pseudopanax.

Tupeia antarctica grows >1 m in diameter. The plant's attachment to the host develops a large gall. It has hairy stems and leaf stalks. The leaves are ovate, elliptic, a bright green and are 10-70mm long and are arranged in opposite pairs. The hairless leaf margins are smooth. Tupeia antarctica is sometimes deciduous.
Flowering occurs during October – December. The tiny 3-5 mm diameter flowers are initially yellow but change to orange with age. Flowers occur in clusters of 2-11. 
During Dec.–May the flowers give rise to small, egg-shaped, white with purple markings or pink fruits.

Tupeia antarctica suffers from the browsing by possums and from habitat modification. The decline of birds that are associated with pollination and dispersal has had a detrimental effect (chiefly bellbird and tui). Birds must disperse seed onto a host branch for the seed to germinate into a new mistletoe plant. 



Tupeia antarctica's tiny flowers.





Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/