Oak Mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum)

Plantae>Magnoliophyta>Magnoliopsida>Santalales>Viscaceae>Phoradendron leucarpum (Raf.) Reveal & M.C. Johnston

Oak Mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum)

Oak Mistletoe, also known as American Mistletoe, is a fairly common parasitic evergreen subshrub. Mistletoe is unmistakable, with opposite thick, leathery, evergreen leaves, clumping ball-shaped growth form, and parasitic nature.

In North Carolina, Mistletoe is most common in the Coastal Plain, fairly common in the Piedmont, and uncommon in the Mountains. Larval host plant for the Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus). Formerly known as Phoradendron serotinum.

Moore Co., NC 6/18/05.

Oak Mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum)

Despite the official common name Oak Mistletoe, other types of trees are commonly used. This one is growing on Red Maple (Acer rubrum), one of the most frequent hosts.

Durham, NC 1/15/07.

Oak Mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum)

Mistletoe grows most often on high branches of hardwood trees.

Hyde Co., NC 12/29/06.

Oak Mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum)

Mistletoe produces white berries with sticky pulp, which are eaten by birds and spread by them to other trees.

Hyde Co., NC 12/29/06.

Oak Mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum) berries

The pulp remains sticky as it passes through the bird's digestive tract. When the seeds are excreted, the pulp makes it stick to the branch it lands on - and eventually it sprouts where it landed.

Durham, NC 1/15/07.

More information:
Bioimgages
Delaware Wildflowers
Florida Nature
Oklahoma Biological Survey
NC State - Poisonous Plants

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cwcook@duke.edu

All photographs and text ©2011 by Will Cook.