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Red maple is a typical host that mistletoe in NC.

Mistletoe is a typical plant throughout phibìc Carolina that deserve to be found cultivation on the branches that deciduous trees. This very same mistletoe is frequently harvested and also brought indoors throughout the holidays, wherein it is hung in doorways to provide an excuse for stealing a kiss. Despite often thought about a pest, over there are number of things that must be considered before deciding if this plant is a girlfriend or foe.

Mistletoe Biology

While mistletoe can prosper on more than 100 different species of trees, it is many often discovered on pecan, hickory, oaks, red maple and also black gum in north Carolina. Mistletoe is a small evergreen shrub the is semi-parasitic on various other plants. Rather of developing roots in the ground, mistletoe sends out root like structures into tree branches, indigenous which that steals water and nutrients. The tree the mistletoe grows upon is well-known as its host. Together a eco-friendly plant, mistletoe go contain chlorophyll and also is able come make some of its own food, so it does not fully deplete its organize tree.

Mistletoe is most quickly seen in winter. Watch for ball shaped green masses up to 3’ wide connected to otherwise bare tree branches. Every mass in a tree is an separation, personal, instance mistletoe plant and a single tree may organize only a couple of or plenty of mistletoe plants. Birds room responsible for spreading mistletoe by seed. They relish its white berries, i m sorry ripen in beforehand winter. Once birds feeding on this berries, the seed within the berry passes v the bird’s digestive track surrounded by a difficult film the helps the seeds stick to tree branches once it comes out the other end. Locations where trees are heavily infested through mistletoe are often indicative that a healthy and balanced bird population.

Is Mistletoe Harmful?

Mistletoe spreads and grows relatively slowly and also is rarely considered an immediate threat to tree health. Healthy trees room able to tolerate a couple of mistletoe plants with little harmful effect. Trees the are heavily infested with mistletoe may come to be less vigorous, stunted, and can perhaps be eliminated if subjected to added stress from drought, exkeolistravelservices.comsive temperatures, source damage, insect infestation, or disease.

Like many organisms the at first appear to just be pests, mistletoe additionally has some benefits. The is tremendously an important to wildlife, an especially birds and also insects. For most property owners, the presence of mistletoe should be taken into consideration a sign of a diverse ecosystem quite than a risk to tree health.

Controlling Mistletoe


Mistletoe spreads by seed consisted of within poison white berries.

If mistletoe is farming on tree in your yard the ideal thing you have the right to do for them is to carry out extra water throughout drought and an yearly spring applications of slow-moving release or nekeolistravelservices.comsary fertilizer. In addition, apply a 2”-3” class of mulch or ground leaves approximately trees native the trunk out to the leaf of the canopy. This will alleviate competition indigenous grass, maintain moisture, and protect tree from injury through mowing equipment.

If there are trees ~ above your property where mistletoe growth cannot be tolerated, girlfriend can control it by pruning the end the infested branches. Simply cutting the mistletoe back flush with the branch will certainly not death this parasite, despite it will assist slow that growth and also spread. In a tree where numerous branches would have to be eliminated to rid that of mistletoe, merely letting nature to take its food is the far better option together removing many branches is harmful and often fatal come trees.

Pruning tree to eliminate mistletoe is ideal done in winter through a certified arborist. Certified arborists are highly qualified tree experts who have passed the certified arborist exam readily available through the International society of Arboriculture. A list of certified arborists practicing in phibìc Carolina can be uncovered on their website,

Use through Care

If you are considering harvest mistletoe to lug indoors throughout the holiday, be sure to location it carefully. The white berry of our aboriginal mistletoe are poisonous and also may reason stomach and also intestinal irritation v diarrhea, lower blood pressure, and slow pulse if ingested. While an average adult would have to eat numerous berries before ending up being sick, pets and children might be more sensitive. Make certain to save mistletoe well the end of your reach.

Learn More!

Learn much more about mistletoe’s lore, organic history, and also management in landscape tree from these virtual

Use Extension Search to uncover research based information from participating Extension systems throughout the U.S.

Visit her local Cooperative Extension office to learn more about gardening and also landscape care. Uncover your county expansion center.

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Written By

Charlotte Glen, Ed.D.State Coordinator, NC State expansion Master Gardener ProgramCall Charlotte email Charlotte Horticultural science NC State Extension, NC State University