A species of tropical mistletoe has been discovered near Mount Mabu in Mozambique. Colin Congdon, an African butterfly researcher was the first to notice it. Helixanthera schizocalyx is found on stunted trees in wet mountain forests. It is a parasitic shrub which grows to about fifty centimeters in height, and attaches itself to small trees. So far it is believed to be unique in that it depends upon insect pollination, instead of bird pollination. (Most mistletoe in the same scientific classification adapted to bird pollination, meaning birds eat the seeds in fruit, and the seeds are dispersed, so new plants can grow.) The species is considered to be threatened due to its limited range and the possibility its habitat will be logged or converted to agricultural lands.
This species of mistletoe lives at about 1,650 meters above sea level, and it is believed to be in similar habitats on nearby mountains. Mount Mabu has not been extensively explored by scientists, but it supports a large area of forest. This forest was actually first noticed on Google Earth, and is sometimes called the Google Forest. “When images of Mount Mabu were analysed, it became clear that there was a large patch of dark green of which there was no official record. A quickly arranged visit to northern Mozambique confirmed what Dr Bayliss had suspected. It was at that stage I realised that we were dealing with what looks like the biggest rainforest in Southern Africa,” Dr. Bayliss said. (Source: BBC)
Mount Mabu is not legally protected, but there is some discussion taking place about making it a conservation area.
Image Credit: Kew RGB (Kew is a plant research and conservation organization)
Image Credit Mt. Mabu: Tom Timberlake, KEW RGB