Art. XLV.—On a New Mistletoe.
[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 24th February, 1892.]
When botanizing in the Castle Hill Basin with my friend J. D. Enys, F.G.S., in 1876, we found the curious little Viscum represented in the plate (PI. XXXVII.) growing on Coprosma propinqua, A. Cunn., at an elevation of fully 3,000ft.; but, as the specimens were in an imperfect state, they were laid aside in the hope that an opportunity of collecting both male and female flowers in good condition might be afforded at no distant date. Unhappily, the expectation has not been realised; but when visiting the district during January, 1891, Mr. Enys and myself found the plant growing on Aristotelia fruticosa, Hook. f., in another habitat; and, although we failed to find flowering specimens, I venture to publish an imperfect description in the hope that some of my fellow-workers may be induced to keep a look-out for it.
It belongs to the section Ploionuxia, and is most nearly related to V. lindsayi, Oliver, which, although rare and local, is found in lowland districts from Hawke's Bay to Otago.
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A small, much-branched, leafless shrub, 1in.-2in. high, glabrous in all its parts, and rather succulent. Branchlets crowded, more or less divaricate. Joints of the stem linear-clavate, flat, ¼in.-½in. long, 1/20in.-⅛in. broad. Spikes jointed, solitary, lateral or terminal, ½in. long or more. Flowers in 2–4, rarely 5, rather distant whorls: ♂ flowers not seen; perianth of ♀flower minutely 3-lobed, persistent. Berry (immature) minute, pyriform, viscid.
Hab. South Island: Canterbury, Castle Hill Basin; 2,300ft.-3,000ft. Parasitic on Coprosma propinqua, Aristotelia fruticosa, Discaria toumatou, &c.
This remarkable little plant is of a dark-green hue, which exactly matches the dark foliage of its hosts; so that, although occurring in profusion, it may easily escape notice. Its nearest ally is V. lindsayi, from which it differs in the form of the articulations and in their length being more than twice their breadth; in the spikes being always solitary; and in the pyriform fruits. The membranous crown or margin at the apex of each joint, also, is larger than in V. lindsayi, while the whorls are more distant and the flowers less crowded.
The joints of the spike, or peduncle, show in some Instances a gradual transition from the normal articulations of the stem to a simple terete or slightly-flattened condition. The basal joints are often distinctly clavate, and as large as the ordinary joints; the upper joints gradually lose the clavate form, and diminish in size towards the apex. Not infrequently some of these joints closely resemble the stem-joints of V. salicor-nioides, A. Cunn., belonging to the section Aspiduxia.