August 2019
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Exploding parasites

Arceuthobium bicarinatum

Arceuthobium bicarinatum

What’s interesting is not the branch, but rather all the small fragments around. They are plants of the parasitic genus Arceuthobium, small dwarf mistletoes specialised on gymnosperms. The genus’ 40 species can be found on most continents, including Europe, but the genus is most diverse in North America. Their fruits are well adopted to life in a forest; lacking a disperser they instead explode and shoot the sticky seed away, with a speed of up to 80 km/h! This specimen was collected by Baron Türckheim (1853-1920), a German coffee farmer in Guatemala. 57 years old he made a botanical exploration of the mountains of Santo Domingo (Hispaniola), where he collected this one.

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