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Dwarf Mistletoe (Arceuthobium spp.) and
Mistletoe (Phoradendron spp.)

Shrubs Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Mistletoe (Arceuthobium spp.)
Mistletoe with berries on a Catclaw Acacia.

General: The mistletoes (Arceuthobium spp. and Phoradendron spp.) are parasitic plants that live by taking water and nutrients from other species of plants. There are nine species of mistletoe in Nevada (perhaps eight in southern Nevada), and most specialize on a particular species or a group of related species (see table below).

The plants produce juicy berries that are eaten by birds, especially Phainopepla and Cedar Waxwings. However, some species are toxic to humans.

In the genus Phoradendron, the seeds spread by birds (especially Phainopepla) who eat the berries and later "deposit" the seeds on other plants. Sometimes the seeds stick to the bill of the bird, who then wipes it off on some other branch where it sticks and starts to grow. In the genus Arceuthobium, the sticky seeds are ejected from the berry and land on other branches or other plants.

Family: Santalaceae [formerly Viscaceae].

Mistletoe (Arceuthobium spp.)
Catclaw Acacia taken over by Mesquite Mistletoe.

The species of mistletoe in Nevada include:

Common Name Scientific Name Host Species
Dwarf Mistletoe, Fir Arceuthobium abietinum various species of fir
Dwarf Mistletoe, American Arceuthobium americanum lodgepole pine
Dwarf Mistletoe, Western Arceuthobium campylopodum pines, ponderosa pine
Dwarf Mistletoe, Limber Pine Arceuthobium cyanocarpum limber pine
Dwarf Mistletoe, Pinyon Arceuthobium divaricatum pines, pinyon pine
Dwarf Mistletoe, Douglas Fir Arceuthobium douglasii douglas fir
Mistletoe, Mesquite Phoradendron californicum mesquite, catclaw
Mistletoe, Juniper Phoradendron juniperinum juniper
Mistletoe, Oak Phoradendron villosum oak
Mistletoe (Arceuthobium spp.) Narrow-leafed Juniper Mistletoe on Utah juniper.
Mistletoe (Arceuthobium spp.) Broad-leafed Oak Mistletoe (Phoradendron coryae) on shrub live oak.

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 100826

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