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  • Strategy

Sticky berries adhere: Australian mistletoe


Mistletoe seed left by a bird / Peter / LicenseGFDL - Gnu Free Document License

The berries of Australian mistletoe adhere to tree branches via sticky surface.

"As a group, the Australian mistletoes have developed a rather more specialised system of transport than that employed by their European relative. One particular bird, the mistletoe bird, eats little other than mistletoe berries. There are so many species, each with its own fruiting season, that the bird is able to find berries throughout the year and it flies along regular migration routes in order to do so. Its digestive system is specially modified to cope with this diet. For some reason, it processes the berries with remarkable speed so that one will take less than half an hour to travel from entry to exit. When it emerges the seed still has considerable residual stickiness and so remains fastened to the bird's rear. The defecating bird does not, however, sit transversely across a twig waiting for the mistletoe seed to drop off. Instead, it turns so that its body is aligned along the twig and carefully wipes its bottom on the bark beneath. This fixes the seed to the tree but threads of the seed's glue still remain attached to the bird's rear and it has to make three separate sideways jumps along the twig before the connection is finally broken." (Attenborough 1995:230-231)
About the inspiring organism

Learn more at
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Adhesives for sealing pipes or cables, adhesives for use in pre-fabricated building products or furniture, bonding applications for electronics.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Utilities, building, electronics

Attenborough, D. 1995. The Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behavior. London: BBC Books. 320 p.
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