ARMIDALE DUMARESQ Council wants to kiss the mistletoe goodbye, but all for a good cause.
The plant parasite has a penchant for eucalypts in open spaces and has infected trees in Drummond Park and the Arboretum.
It’s spread by the tiny mistletoe bird, which feeds on the plant’s nectar then disperses seeds in nearby branches.
The problem has become acute as forests are cleared for agricultural and development purposes, leaving eucalypts with little undergrowth and growing in the open – perfect conditions for the shy mistletoe bird.
While most healthy trees can tolerate a load of mistletoe, less healthy specimens can fall prey to the parasite and may die.
Council senior officer Richard Morsley said: “In the past, Council has spent up to $20,000 on cherry pickers to prune infested eucalypts in the Arboretum, but the mistletoe simply grows back.”
Flame-throwers, herbicides and chopping have also been used by landholders to eradicate the parasite, all to no avail. Councillor Peter O’Donohue raised the alarm over the infested trees in Drummond Park and the Arboretum at a meeting on Monday, after tree loppers warned him of the problem there.
Mr Morsley said Council would weigh up whether it was beneficial to again spend money to clear the mistletoe from the trees.
Or else they could rely on lovestruck seasonal revellers to pick it for this Christmas.