Amylotheca dictyophleba (LORANTHACEAE) Brush Mistletoe

Plants to Plant

Spreading to hanging shrub parasitic on many species of rainforest trees north from the Illawarra region of NSW with external runners, older stems with corky bark. Attachment and contact with the host plant by haustoria (root-like structure which penetrates the host plant tissue). Mimics the host plant, in this case Hard Quandong Elaeocarpus obovatus. Other host plants include Ficus species, Tasmannia insipida, Eupomatia laurina, Cryptocarya microneura, Cupaniopsis anacardioides, Acmena smithii, Elaeocarpus reticulatus, Diospyros australis. Leaves lanceolate to elliptic, to 13 cm, usually shiny on the upper surface. Lower surface dull. The corolla (part of the inflorescence) is inflated in the middle, usually red, grading into green in the upper part. Red or purple globose 5-10 mm single seed covered with a gluey substance and enclosed in thin sac (Blakely 1922).


Spread by birds who feed on the very sticky fruit. They wipe their beaks on the branches of trees, the seed sticking and then parasitising the tree. Host plant for caterpillars of Margarita’s Blue Candalides margarita. The female butterflies of this species are black with a large white patch on each wing, and a faint metallic blue suffusion toward the base. The males are plain dull blue. Underneath, both sexes are white with arcs of brown dashes and black dots. The butterflies have a wingspan of about 3 cm. In Australia, the species is found along the east coast of Queensland and New South Wales. Other subspecies are found in New Guinea. The large mistletoe family Loranthaceae contains 75 genera and approximately 1000 species. The family originated in the southern hemisphere and dispersed, apparently early, between fragments of Gondwana (Calvin Wilson, American Journal of Botany).

References and Resources

An origin of aerial branch parasitism in the mistletoe family, Loranthaceae – Carol A. Wilson and Clyde L. Calvin (fee to view full article)