Dwarf mistletoe Korthalsella salicornioides

Key Features

  • Korthalsella salicornioides is a dwarf leafless green mistletoe that is a partial parasite (hemiparasite) of another plant (mainly mānuka (Leptospermum scoparium) and kānuka complex (Kunzea spp.), but sometimes other indigenous and introduced species).
  • It is characterised by a dense mass of green to reddish-yellow beaded succulent stems 3-10 mm long by 1-3 mm wide long and round in cross section, growing on exposed branches and branchlets of the host plant.
  • It is most likely to be confused with two other species of Korthalsella that are present in New Zealand, K. clavata and K. lindsayi. The other two species are differentiated by having flattened internodes and fewer branches arising at a wider angle than in K. salicornioides (New Zealand Plant Conservation Network 2015).

Distribution and Habitat

  • Found in forest and shrublands in North Island, South Island, and Stewart Island. It is absent from some areas such as Taranaki and East Cape.
  • It is the most host specific species of the three Korthalsella species in New Zealand, with 96% of plants found on either mānuka or species of kānuka.
  • Host plants include 26 different taxa from six genera in five families.
  • Some hosts are introduced species including Spanish heath (Erica lusitanica) and other Erica species.
  • Other genera that are known hosts for this species include Sophora, Coprosma and Melicope (Sultan et al. 2018).


  • Habitat modification and loss, particularly by felling of host plants for firewood, or as a result of farming and exotic forestry.
  • Many of its key hosts are in the family Mytaceae, and the impacts of the recently arrived myrtle rust in New Zealand are unknown. As a result of this threat, a higher threat classification has been recently assigned to this species (de Lange et al. 2018).

Management Opportunities

  • Survey for new locations in areas with abundant mānuka and species in the kānuka complex, or at geothermal sites.
  • Monitor individual populations.
  • Protect habitat.
  • Ensure that forest owners are aware of potential habitats and can recognise the species.
  • Consider botanical survey of sites where it is known or likely to occur.

Monitoring Options

  • Check existing populations annually.
  • Report new locations to DOC.

Further Information and Support

  • Weed and pest control - Department of Conservation, Regional Councils.


  • de Lange P.J., Rolfe J.R., Barkla J.W., Courtney S.P., Champion P.D., Perrie L.R., Beadel S.M., Ford K.A., Breitwieser I., Schönberger I., Hindmarsh-Walls R., Heenan P.B. and Ladley K. 2018: Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2017. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 22. Department of Conservation, Wellington. 82 pp.
  • New Zealand Plant Conservation Network 2015: Korthalsella salicornioides - Fact Sheet prepared for the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=275 : Accessed 7 March 2019.
  • Sultan A., Tate, J.A. , de Lange, P.J., Glenny. D., Ladley J.L., Heenan P. & Robertson A.W. 2018: Host range, host specificity, regional host preferences and genetic variability of Korthalsella Tiegh. (Viscaceae) mistletoes in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 56(2): 127-162.