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Mistletoe – not so sweet after all!

I am sure you have heard that kissing under the mistletoe is a good thing to do around the holidays. The fact that mistletoe is harvested into a ball and placed in a particular spot where kissing can occur –  is a good thing. That means it is no longer in the tree where it does a lot of damage.

Yes, mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on healthy trees and can do severe damage if left untreated. On Budget Tree Service’s professionals are knowledgeable in removing mistletoe.

Winter is the best time of year to get rid of mistletoe from your trees. While your trees are bare, or nearly bare, you can easily recognize whether the green leafy plants have infested your trees. Mistletoe have green stems with thick leaves that are nearly oval in shape and can develop a ball form up to 2 feet in diameter. The female plants produce small sticky white berries from October to December, while the male plants produce only pollen.

These berries are attractive to birds. Once eaten and digested the seeds stick tightly to any branch on which they land, mostly in the tops of trees where birds prefer to perch. However, the seeds can land on the lower branches as well, creating lower infestations. Mistletoe spreads to trees in close proximity to other infested trees. The parasitic plant robs the tree of much needed water and nutrients and over time will at least stunt or eventually kill the host tree.

The biggest problem with mistletoe is after the seeds germinate, the plant grows through the bark and into the tree’s water-conducting tissue where it takes root and becomes attached to the tree. This root system, called “haustoria”, gradually grows up and down the branch growing slowly at first. After several years the mature plant blooms and produces seed and the cycle continues. The difficulty in removing and eliminating mistletoe is in the fact that removing the green leafy part of the plant still leaves the root system in the tree and new plants continually grow from the roots. The only way to effectively eliminate mistletoe is to remove the branch or part of the tree with the mistletoe. Other means are available to treat a tree trunk or other part of the tree that can not otherwise be removed and save the tree.

We recommend retaining the services of an Arborist to periodically evaluate the health of your trees. In Marion County, Florida, these services can range from $125 to $300 for a residential property. A great deal of formal training is required to acquire this skill and tree assessment knowledge. An Arborist may find other issues with your trees and can give advice on the care needed to maintain your trees’ optimum health. On Budget Tree Service is one of the few tree services in Marion County that have Arborists on staff.

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