Standing under the mistletoe at Christmas, waiting for that special young man to give you a shy smacker may have been exciting in our junior high days, but when I see what it does to our trees, the thrill is gone. Mistletoe is a parasite, which in a severe infestation as shown in the photos, will eventually kill the tree, its host. I prefer the tree to the mistletoe!
It is thought that mistletoe colonies are begun with undigested seeds in bird droppings adhering to the branches of trees. Technically, mistletoe is a hemi-parasite because its gray-green leaves do produce a bit of sugar through photosynthesis, but mostly, it gets its water and minerals from the host tree. I took these photos because it’s only in winter when a deciduous tree loses its leaves that you can see the enormous clusters of mistletoe. It’s not an attractive sight. Most people consider mistletoe a pest, but some believe it attracts berry-eating birds and increases the diversity of animals.
The poor tree in lower photo is being attacked from below by invasive ivy. The tree will not thrive or survive with predators from above and below!
Some cultures believe mistletoe represents the divine essence of man, e.g. romance, vitality, and fertility. (Is that what those kisses were all about??) For more information about mistletoe and how to control it, go to this university of California website: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7437.html