Phoradendron leucarpum (Raf.) Reveal & M. C. Johnston

  • Family: Viscaceae (mistletoe)
  • Common name: mistletoe
  • Synonyms: Viscum flavescens, Phoradendron macrotomum, P. serotinum, P. eatoni, P. flavescens

    Shrublike evergreen plant, parasitic on several species of broadleaf trees. The plants are attached to and penetrate the branches of host trees and form bushy growths up to 1 m (3 ft) in diameter. Stems brittle, much-branched, usually glabrous but sometimes pubescent. Leaves opposite, entire, succulent, shiny dark green, obovate to elliptic, 2-5 cm (0.8-2 in) long and 1.5-3 cm (0.6-1.2 in) wide. Staminate inflorescence 2-3 cm (0.8-1.2 in) long, divided into 3-6 segments, with numerous very small yellowish flowers. Pistillate inflorescence 1-3 cm (0.4-1.2 in) long, divided into 3-5 segments each with 4-11 very small yellowish flowers. Fruits globose, white, 4-6 mm (0.15-0.25 in) in diameter, with sticky pulp, ripening in early Winter and remaining attached for several months.

    Distribution: Native to much of the eastern third of the U. S.
    Habitat: Deciduous trees
    NWI status: none
    Comment: Mistletoe often becomes extremely abundant on American elm (Ulmus americana) in urban areas. It is infrequent in relatively undisturbed forests. The plant is often used for Christmas decorations. The berries are said to be poisonous, but birds eat them. Phoradendron is derived from Greek words meaning "thief" and "tree", and refers to its parasitic habit; leucarpum refers to the pale fruits.

    Distribution in Oklahoma:

    Last update: 9/15/99
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