The Magic and mischief of mistletoe | Master Gardener | Lifestyles

since 18th One of the sweetest Christmas traditions of the century is the kiss stolen under the mistletoe. An ancient Celtic ritual based on mistletoe’s elixir for fertility treatment seems likely to be the origin of the connection between mistletoe and love and romance. But be careful… There are also many reasons to carefully manage this mischievous plant.

Essentially all mistletoe grows as a parasitic branching structure in the canopy of trees and shrubs. About 1,300 species of mistletoe have been designated in the world. The University of California IPM website (University of California Integrated Pest Management Program) advises that a healthy tree can tolerate mistletoe on a few branches. However, “if the infestation is severe, trees can weaken, stunt growth, die off branches, or die completely.

In California, mistletoe is identified as either broadleaf or dwarf. Although closely related, there are differences in the life cycle and damage inflicted on the host.All mistletoe belongs to the sandalwood family santalaceaeHardwood mistletoe is Foradendron (Greek for “wood thief”) and viscosity; dwarf mistletoe belongs to ArceutoviumRace. Identification of mistletoe species is necessary to control injury and administer treatment. Broadleaf mistletoe can infest a wide variety of hardwood trees, including alder, flowering pear, ash, birch, cottonwood, cottonwood, locust, silver maple, walnut, and zelkova. Conifers suffer less from hardwood mistletoe, but are more susceptible to attack by dwarven mistletoe.

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