Skip to Content
Call Us Today to Schedule a Consultation! (707) 723-1214

What Exactly is Mistletoe?


Did you ever get a kiss under some Mistletoe during the Holidays and wondered what Mistletoe really is? It’s green with berries and they look festive but in reality Mistletoe is a parasite that attaches itself to and penetrates the branches of a tree or shrub by a structure called the haustorium, but more recently scientists and arborists have discovered the mistletoe also benefits its environment in many ways.

Mistletoe plants grow on a wide range of host trees; they commonly reduce their growth and a large plant stunts and commonly kills the distal portion of branch it grows on. A heavy infestation may kill the entire host plant.

A Mistletoe seed germinates on the branch of a host tree or shrub, and in its early stages of development it is independent of its host. It commonly has two or even four embryos, each producing its hypocotyls. Gradually it forms a haustorium that penetrates the host tissue and takes water and nutrients from the host plant.

A broad array of animals depend on Mistletoe for food, consuming the leaves and young shoots, transferring pollen between plants, and dispersing the sticky seeds. In western North America their juicy berries are eaten and spread by birds (notably Phainopepla, or silky-flycatcher). When eaten, some seeds pass unharmed through their digestive systems; if the birds’ droppings happen to land on a suitable branch, the seeds may stick long enough to germinate.

Mistletoe is relevant to several cultures. It is associated with Western Christmas as a decoration, under which lovers are expected to kiss. The reasons for this are less than clear. It is clear that Mistletoe has played an important role in Druidic mythology and in Norse mythology; Loki murdered Balder with an arrow made of Mistletoe.

At Image Tree Service, Inc., our business philosophy is simple. Educate people about their trees, give them good, honest information and do the best job possible. Have a Great Holiday Season!

Great tree people, did great job trimming my two oak trees. Very good working crew!