Farm helps Springwatch chronicle mistletoe

Somerset grower West Bradley Orchards will feature in a BBC Springwatch special to be screened on Boxing Day.

Shot on 30 November, the segment focuses on the role of traditional orchards in sustaining the ecologically and symbolically important mistletoe.

Presenter Kate Humble interviewed director Neil Macdonald about the folklore associated with the plant, but Macdonald made it clear that as a parasite it is far from welcome in orchards.

"A tree with a lot of mistletoe infestation ends up supporting the mistletoe and not its own fruit," he said. "Many of the traditional orchards in Somerset have bad mistletoe problems that lead to the demise of hundreds of trees."

As well as producing cider and apple juice, Macdonald's company Orchard Pig also provides a mistletoe control service on more than 350ha of traditional orchards managed by other cider apple growers.

In the programme, Humble also examines the plant's role in sustaining wildlife through the lean winter months. Cameramen were able to shoot footage of mistle thrushes feeding on the orchard's mistletoe berries.

Springwatch Christmas Special airs on BBC2 at 7pm on 26 December.

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