This alien looking phenomenon is not a live creature with strong octopus legs , its a mistletoe seedling just after germination. A mistletoe bird has feasted on the plants sticky berries before quickly defecating onto a red gum branch. Favourable weather conditions have stimulated the seeds within the dropping to germinate. The primary roots of the embryo are modified into pads which become cemented to the host tree stem. This attachment grows into the host plant. The mistletoe plants continues to grow like any normal plant, except is has a haustorium embedded in the host instead of a root system in the soil.’
I took these photos during our trip to the Mallee in July. This partnership between the mistletoe bird and the mistletoe plant is of mutual benefit to both. The plant being efficiently dispersed and the bird ensuring a continuing food supply.