Fall is a great Time to hike and enjoy the fall color. This weekend my wife and I hiked in the Galena woods area. Prior to the hike I told myself “look for mistletoe “. I didn’t have to look very far to discover it EVERYWHERE!
It is extremely easy to spot this time of year as it takes on a yellow tint making it easy to spot in the green of the tree.
Unfortunately it not so easy to get rid of. Mistletoe ( Phoradendron spp. ) and the dwarf version of Mistletoe ( Arceuthobium spp.) are parasitic plants spread by birds eating then re depositing seeds. The seeds germinate and grow through the tree bark to reach the host trees water conducting tissue
If you find mistletoe on your trees it’s best to
Remove the affected limb 12” beneath the area you find the mistletoe. Cutting back the mistletoe toe periodically will keep it from spreading or going to seed , however it’s presence is still there under the bark.
Another option may be to cut the mistletoe off then wrap the area where the mistletoe was with a sun blocking material for several years ( This MAY kill the mistletoe ) . Chemical methods are available to keep the mistletoe toe from spreading its seed however it does not kill the mistletoe and often need several applications per year.
If the mistletoe toe is bad enough removing the entire tree may be the best option.
A bad infestation will kill the tree within 10-15 years.
In the Reno / Tahoe area you will often find it on Jeffery and Ponderosa Pine.
The good news for your yard is : Recognizing mistletoe and keeping on top of it so it does not spread will stop it from infesting other trees, and keep it from overtaking it’s host tree. Think of the mistletoe toe as it grows as a mini shrub growing on your tree stealing it’s water and nutrients… the host tree will thank you with many years of life for keeping it trimmed off! And the surrounding trees will remain mistletoe free.
– G. Berg