Monday, December 19, 2005

The genus Amyema - A genus of mistletoes

Amyema belong to the Loranthaceae family which, with the Viscaceae family, contain most species commonly referred to as mistletoes.
The name Amyema is derived from the Greek a- (a negative prefix) and myeo (I initiate). This refers to the fact that this genus was previously not recognized as a separate entity as it and several other mistletoe genera had formerly been grouped under Loranthus.
Some 100 or so Amyema species are distributed from Malaya, the Philippines, New Guinea and Australia to the western Pacific. Some 36 species occur in Australia of which 32 are endemic. 24 species of the genus have been identified in Queensland and of these 9 species have been recorded in Port Curtis.

Port Curtis species and common hosts
A.biniflorum eucalypts
A.cambagei Casuarina species
A.congener ssp congener rainforest species
ssp rotundifolium Acacia, Casuarinaceae & Geyeraparviflora
A.conspicuum ssp conspicuum Alphitonia & Acacia
A.mackayense mangroves
A.miquelii eucalypts & Acacia
A.pendulum ssp longifolium eucalypts & Acacia
A.quandang var bancroftii on many Acacia species
A.sanguineum var sanguineum mostly eucalypts

Amyema genus characteristics

Erect to pendulous, aerial, stem-parasitic shrubs attached to their host by woody haustoria (absorbing organs through which a parasite obtains chemical substances from its host); epicortical (outside of but on the bark) runners present or absent.
Leaves usually opposite or near-opposite and entire.
Inflorescences made up of umbel (a type of wheel-like inflorescence) of dyads (groups of 2), triads (groups of 3) or tetrads (groups of 4) or sometimes reduced to simple umbel or head.
Flowers with 4-6 petals separated to the base and which shed separately and basifixed (attached at the bottom) anthers.
Fruits baccate (berry-like); single seed surrounded by sticky layer.
Many species tend to mimic the appearance of their hosts.

Amyema uses
The sticky fruits are edible.
Some aboriginal tribes bruised the leaves of A. quandang in water and then drank the water as a treatment for fevers.
In some tribes both men and women boiled the mucilaginous fruits of A. maidenii in water and drank the decoction to treat inflammations of the genital area. That amount which would go into a hollowed hand was taken three times a day.

Amyema and wildlife
Amyema flowers, flower buds, nectar, pollen, leaves, fruits, seeds, bark and sterns play a very important role in sustaining many animal species.
Wildlife recorded feeding on various Amyema species includes
72 bird species (mostly belonging to the parrot and honeyeater clans).
The larvae of 18 butterfly species (mostly jezebels, jewels and azures).
The larvae of 8 moth species Joel Plumb

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