Sunday, May 20, 2007

Erva de passarinho

The common name of this parasitic plant translates in the "little bird's herb" because the seeds are transported by birds. They eat the fruit of the plant and pass the seeds around in their feces. The genus is Phoradendron and there are countless species. I love birds but they sure infect a lot of my star trees, like the Pau Brasil and Pau Rosa. The troublesome plant starts off looking like a very small bud coming out of the branch of the tree or other places where the birds have crapped. In due time it grows into a vine that dines on the sap of the tree. It is fast grower and will kill the host in due time. The only way to deal with it is to manually remove it piece by piece, or prune the infected branch of the tree. The culprit birds at the Bosque are flycatchers, those beautiful yellow breasted birds, and some of the tanagers. They keep a brood going at all times in the Pau Brasil, which means they are continually passing the seed laden droppings to all parts of the tree. In the attached image, erva de passarinho is taking over some branches of a castanhola tree (Terminalia catapa).

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