Given the time of year, its a good time to discuss mistletoe and its relationship with trees. Although, as a Christmas ornament, mistletoe has been known to attract kisses, in the world of trees, the parasitic plant is not as highly regarded.
That's right, I said "parasitic." For purpose of discussion, parasites are defined as organisms that depend on the existence of a host organism without providing any benefit to the host. Often, the parasite exists at the host's "expense."
Mistletoe is an evergreen parasitic plant that embeds into the wood of host trees. In the Dallas/Fort Worth area, typical host trees include Cedar Elm, Hackberry, Bois d'Arc, and Red Oak. Mistletoe, gets its water and nutrients through small "roots" that penetrate the sapwood of host trees. In winter, these appear as green clumps within the bare canopy of deciduous trees. Mature mistletoe grows attractive white berries that are attractive to birds. As birds eat and excrete the seeds, any that land on a host tree limb will sprout and begin the parasitic relationship with the host.
Mistletoe typically will not alone kill a tree but heavy infestations will terribly distress trees to the point where they succumb to other problems or lack the vigor found in non-infested trees. I once removed a large Cedar Elm that had all but died from an infestation that was so heavy the tree resembled an evergreen Live Oak with almost full winter foliage. Due to the infestation, the tree had no annual growth or vigor and developed grotesque burls or growths in the infested wood.
Currently, there is no reliable chemical control of this plant although there is research looking to create one. Mistletoe can be eliminated or controlled by pruning. Removing the plant or branches where the plant is attached will prevent them from maturing and propogating additional sites in the tree. This will eliminate or minimize the impact of mistletoe on your trees.
Have Heriage Tree Service of Texas help you get control of the mistloe in your trees. Call us for a free estimate.
This may seem a strange statement as we enter the chill of Winter here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I am referring to a great time for working with trees in many ways.
It is perhaps the best times to plant trees since they will have ample time to start getting established prior to the heat of Summer. It's even a good time for an application of certain tree fertilizer formulas to grow roots and kick start the new growth in the Spring.
Mostly, it is a great time to prune and trim trees. Here are some key reasons why:
1) Low stress - Since both deciduous and evergreen trees are in their dormant period, removing limbs has less impact on the near-term and long-term health of the tree. In addition, more frequent rainfall and cooler temperatures means the soil holds a greater amount of moisture for the roots which is like a protective blanket for the tree. Winter is like a general anesthetic for the tree when it is being "operated on." When the tree comes out of its sleep in Spring the tree has already started its healing process from any cutting that has been done.
2) High visibility - For deciduous trees, their branch structure becomes quite visible and structural issues can be more clearly identified and addressed. Overlapping or rubbing limbs can be removed before the problems become more significant. Areas where the canopy needs thinning become readily apparent. Mistletoe can be identified for removal in Cedar Elms, Hackberries, Oaks, and Bois d'Arcs.
3) Low risk - Cutting trees makes them more succeptible to a variety of pests like insects and disease. During Winter months insects are also dormant and not actively seeking out new territory to infest. Beetles, aphids, caterpillars, etc are sleeping through the winter cold. Fungal diseases such as Oak Wilt and Cotton Root Rot have stopped their life cycles temorarily as temperatures drop. Cuts made in Winter months are far less likely to become conduits for pests to infest your trees.
I know that this topic begs the question, "Why would I want to have my trees pruned in the Summer?" The answer is this -Trees can be safely pruned any time of year by tree professional taking the appropriate precautions. Such procautions would include sterilizing equipment, painting tree cuts, and application of water and nutrients.
Given that this is a great time of year to prune and trim your trees, have Heritage Tree Service of Texas do your tree prunning this Winter.