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.