mass-produced in a factory overseas. However, native Broadleaf Mistletoe (Phoradendron macrophyllum) is common in the wild; though often high in the tree tops, which prevents an easy harvest. If you do encounter real Mistletoe, it’s wise to note that the “white-ish”berries found on the female plants are potentially fatal to humans if ingested. The male plants do not produce berries. If you’re displaying Mistletoe, it is recommended to remove and safely discard the berries. From 1985 to 1992, over 1,700 cases of Mistletoe poisoning (in children and pets) were reported by U.S. poison control centers.
1. Mistletoe is an evergreen parasitic plant that draws water and nutrients from its host tree.
2. Mistletoe is often found in the uppermost branches of tall Oak trees, and is also common in Elm, Hackberry, Sycamore, Walnut, and other trees.
3. Healthy trees can tolerate a few mistletoe infections, but heavily infested trees may show reduced vigor, stunted growth, or can even be killed.
4. Mistletoe is not harmful to birds, which are primarily responsible for propagating the plant by spreading the seeds in
their droppings. The literal English translation of mistletoe is “dung-on-a-twig”… no wonder mistletoe sounds more romantic!
blog entry by Mark Murphy, CMG
photo courtesy of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension
sources: Mistletoe, Dan Culbert, University of Florida Extension (online). Mistletoe, UC Davis, Pest Notes publication 7437. The History of Mistletoe, Tony Glover, Alabama Cooperative Extension.