One weekend recently we went to visit a friend who lives near the Aldinga Scrub. While I was there we went for a wonderful walk on the beach, making the dog and ourselves happy. So I collected a couple of samples while we were out, as many local people, like my friend, are planting as many local species as they can around their homes. I decided to try a quandong and its mistletoe. In case you’re not from around here, dear reader, let me advise that in Australia, mistletoe is a big family of parasitic plants which will eventually (but usually slowly) kill their hosts. It isn’t so much the romantic plant under which people kiss at certain festivals. There are lots of mistletoes, and they are cunningly adapted to a narrow range of host plants.
I have a fabulous book on mistletoes, Mistletoes of Southern Australia by David M Watson, published by the CSIRO. It has me in awe of these extraordinary plants, but has convinced me that I am unlikely ever to be able to identify them with confidence. There are only 46 to choose from in this part of the continent, though, so the task is a good bit smaller than learning Eucalypt identification. There are some mistletoes in the book that this plant is clearly not. But as to which one it is… I have several candidates in mind. And I don’t know which of the quandongs this is, either. It doesn’t look like the favoured bush food species Santalum acuminatum to me. But Wikipedia lists a lot of other varieties all called ‘quandong’!
Anyway, on to the leaf prints. Quandong in flower, before:
After cooking with iron, which left quite an impression:
The iron may have made an impression, but this convinced me that this quandong isn’t much of a dye plant. And now, the mistletoe, which is in glorious flower and will later create a rather impressive berry. Before:
And after. I think this leaf print is a good bit less glorious than the plant, but this is definitely a distinct print. So the mistletoe has dye potential.
And that is the story of the quandong and its mistletoe for now…
4 responses to “A story of a quandong and its mistletoe”
I also have had good results from mistletoe it came off a eucalyptus I did not know what it was at first until I looked skyward. I have a blue quandong Elaeocarpus Grandis that gives a great green.
Blue quandong! That sounds just amazing. I think I have seen that growing on the campus at Queensland Uni of Technology Gardens Point (I’ve been to check on it and yes, I’ve seen that tree in Qld–and it is just as splendid as ‘blue quandong’ sounds to my imagination). I am really impressed you get green from it. More clues for further investigation, Wendi. I love that.
Blue quandong (related to rudrashka) is not related to desert quandong (related to sandalwood), so may have very different dye properties. What part was used – the leaves? I have a related Elaeocarpus (arnhemicus) species near me so am curious.
(Also, hi, I’m an Australian natural dyer from the Top End [esp into botany and lightfastness] so you might see me commenting more! Great blog!)
Hi Balanda, thanks! I am in SA, so the only place I would find blue quandong would be the Botanic Gardens. I used leaves in my sample. Wendi also has a blog you might like: Wendi of the Treasure. Looking forward to hearing more from you! Botanical and dyeing knowledge all welcomed here with enthusiasm. Mary