Choosing A Site

Mistletoe receptivity among oaks has a definite genetic origin, but site conditions also proved vital in maintaining optimum receptivity and long-term mistletoe cultivation. One important factor is an adequate water supply to the host roots to compensate for the relatively high transpiration rate of mistletoe (Schulze et al., 1984).

In 1923, Tubeuf wondered whether levels of specific minerals such as calcium in the site may have an effect on mistletoe occurrence, but no definite conclusions could be drawn from his findings. With oaks, however, we could make relevant observations. Chlorosis was repeatedly seen in mistletoe-bearing oaks grown in plantations in the Jura mountains where the lime content is high, resulting in quite considerable losses as regards both mistletoe and oaks. Leaf and soil analysis showed lime-induced iron and above all manganese deficiency. Furthermore extensive soil analysis in France showed that almost 80% of mistletoe-bearing oaks grow in moderately to highly acid soils for which relatively low lime and high iron and manganese levels are typical (Ramm 1994; Figure 2). In experiments with oak seedlings grown in pots, it was possible not only to deal with the chlorosis but also to increase the proportion of mistletoe-receptive specimens by changing the root environment from basic lime to an acid mixture of clay and sand (Ramm, unpublished results).

No, of sites

No, of sites

weakly weakly moderately very extremly alkaline acid acid acid acid

weakly weakly moderately very extremly alkaline acid acid acid acid

Figure 2 Distribution of pH readings in the soils of French mistletoe oaks (n=61). Soil samples from horizon A, pH classes according to Scheffer and Schachtschabel (1979).

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