American mistletoe is an evergreen, seed-bearing, parasitic plant that affects hardwood trees. Mistletoe usually appears on hardwood trees after the leaves fall.
The mistletoe gets water and nutrients from the host tree. Since its leaves contain chlorophyll, it can also produce its own food. The mistletoe plant thrives in sunlight, especially in the Central Texas area.
While mistletoe doesn’t usually kill the entire tree, it often stresses the tree’s overall health, and can kill some of the tree’s branches. However, if a tree is heavily infested, it may be stunted in its growth. Sometimes heavily infested trees lose so much vigor that they die.
The only way to control mistletoe is to remove the plant, and its infested branches.
- Pruning out infected branches.
- Severe topping when trees are heavily infested
- Tree removal if infection is severe. This stops the spread of mistletoe seed to other nearby trees
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Mistletoe Resistant Trees
Some species of trees can better resist mistletoe infestation.
The following trees are resistant to mistletoe:
- Chinese pistache
- Crape myrtles *
- Golden rain tree
* Crape Myrtle trees are the most common Central Texas tree that is resistant to mistletoe.
Mistletoe Susceptible Trees
These trees are more likely to suffer mistletoe infestation:
- Flowering pear
- Box elder
- Cedar elm *
- Hackberry *
- Silver maple
(*) Cedar elm and Hackberry trees are the most common Central Texas trees likely to suffer mistletoe infestation.