American Mistletoe Phoradendron leucarpum (Rafinesque) Reveal & M.C. Johnson    Synonyms: Oak Mistletoe, Phoradendron flavescens, Phoradendron serotinum.
Kingdom Plantae   >   Division Tracheophyta   >   Class Magnoliopsida   >   Order Santalales   >   Family Santalaceae   >   Genus Phoradendron   

Status:

American Mistletoe is an evergreen, hemi-parasitic sub-shrub that is native to the southeastern United States. It is typically found growing on Red Maple, but also occurs on oaks, gums (Nyssa spp.), and some other deciduous trees.

Description:

American mistletoe has opposite, leathery, evergreen leaves and grows in ball-shaped clumps in tree canopies. Mistletoe produces white berries (technically, drupes) having sticky pulp. These are eaten by birds. As the berries pass through a bird's digestive tract, the pulp remains sticky, enabling the seeds to spread through bird droppings to the branches of trees that the bird lands on. Fruits also disperse by sticking to birds' bills and to their feathers. The seed sprouts where it lands, and small roots emerge. These penetrate the tree bark and develop into haustoria, or feeding organs that can absorb sugars and other foods from the host tree. The green color of the plant indicates that it contains chlorophyll and can obtain some of its food through photosynthesis.

Where to find:

Most common on the coastal plain but can also be found along the Fall Line. Usually occurs in mesic or wet habitats; often abundant in swamp forests (Weakley, et al., 2012). Clumps, or balls, of mistletoe are easy to spot in the winter, when deciduous trees are bare.

Relationships:

Birds feed on the fruits and spread the seeds.

Primary host plant of Great Purple Hairstreak.

There are 336 records in the project database.

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American Mistletoe in Harford Co., Maryland (12/16/2017). Photo by Josh Emm. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe growing on Red Maple in Somerset Co., Maryland (1/20/2013). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe growing in Worcester Co., Maryland (3/27/2016). Photo by Dan Small. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe growing in Caroline Co., Maryland (5/28/2012). Also called Oak Mistletoe, this plant is a hemi-parasite that grows on various tree species. It is the host plant of Great Purple Hairstreak. Photo by Jim Brighton. (MBP list)

Clumps of American Mistletoe in Worcester Co., Maryland (11/11/2012). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe in Harford Co., Maryland (12/6/2015). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe growing in Harford Co., Maryland (3/16/2018). Photo by Dave Webb. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe in Howard Co., Maryland (6/17/2013). Photo by Nancy Magnusson. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe growing on a blooming Red Maple in Dorchester Co., Maryland (3/26/2016). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe fruiting in Queen Anne's Co., Maryland (1/31/2017). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe fruiting in Harford Co., Maryland (12/16/2017). Photo by Josh Emm. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe with fruit in Caroline Co., Maryland (1/1/2018). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe in Montgomery Co., Maryland (11/24/2017). (c) mmn_noriko, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by mmn_noriko via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe in Caroline Co., Maryland (12/1/2020). (c) Wayne Longbottom, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe in Worcester Co., Maryland (5/25/2020). (c) Nathan Ashley, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Nathan Ashley via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe in fruit in Queen Anne's Co., Maryland (12/6/2020). (c) Wayne Longbottom, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe in fruit in Queen Anne's Co., Maryland (12/6/2020). (c) Wayne Longbottom, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe in Queen Anne's Co., Maryland (12/6/2020). (c) Wayne Longbottom, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe in fruit in Caroline Co., Maryland (11/20/2020). (c) Wayne Longbottom, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe in fruit in Caroline Co., Maryland (11/20/2020). (c) Wayne Longbottom, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe in Worcester Co., Maryland (11/22/2020). (c) Wayne Longbottom, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe in bloom in Caroline Co., Maryland (1/1/2018). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe in Harford Co., Maryland (3/9/2020). (c) apistopanchax, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Josh Emm. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe fruiting in Wicomico Co., Maryland (11/22/2020). (c) Wayne Longbottom, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

American Mistletoe in Caroline Co., Maryland (11/29/2020). (c) Wayne Longbottom, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)


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