Even though we have made it through the holidays, you may still notice some remnants of the season, namely in your trees. One type of holiday décor that tends to stick around for much longer than invited is Mistletoe. While Mistletoe can bring color and fun to the holiday season, it can actually be extremely detrimental to trees and other plants that may live in your yard or neighborhood.
What You Need to Know About Mistletoe
While it may look pretty, Mistletoe is a parasite and is considered an invasive species. Mistletoe grows on existing trees, stealing their nutrients and water for themselves. This is always harmful to the tree and Mistletoe provides no benefits to the tree it lives on. If left to its own devices, Mistletoe will steal nutrients from its host all year long (this is how it remains green in the winter) and eventually kill the tree.
Mistletoe is spread through bird poop. Gross, right? This means it can easily be spread from tree to tree by migrating birds and is also not too picky about its host’s variety. Even cacti can become hosts to Mistletoe in the right conditions.
As you can see, Mistletoe is not your tree’s friend. It spreads easily and can be extremely harmful to the trees it uses as its hosts. But despite its invasive nature, Mistletoe has a variety of positive attributes that we should also highlight. Studies have shown it may be helpful in treating certain cancers and offers a steady food supply to many bird populations through the winter. Many animals also use Mistletoe for their nests, including birds and squirrels.
Should You Be Worried About Mistletoe?
That all sounded pretty scary, but luckily a majority of Mistletoe infestation cases that we see are very mild and easily eradicated. Mistletoe grows very slowly so it is easy to catch early on before it has spread through the full canopy. If you notice new green leaves in your trees during the winter, or even some tiny white berries, it’s time to take a closer look and consider an eradication plan. Some of the most common trees that we find Mistletoe growing on are Red Oak, Cedar, Elm, and Hackberry, however, there are thousands of species that are susceptible to it.
The good news is that Mistletoe is unlikely to cause damage or kill your tree unless it is not dealt with for multiple years in a row and allowed to grow uncontrolled. Before this happens, your tree will start to show signs of decline so you should have plenty of time to do something about the Mistletoe before it’s too late.
How to Get Rid of Mistletoe
When it comes to getting rid of Mistletoe, we recommend pruning the affected branches entirely. If it is possible, remove the entire branch that the Mistletoe is growing on to ensure you have gotten rid of it. If it is growing on the trunk or another location that is not easily removed, these areas can be surgically removed. We recommend working with a professional on any tree surgery projects to avoid unnecessary harm to your tree. Another option is to simply trim back the Mistletoe and let it be. As long as you do not let it spread too far across the branches over the years, this should reduce the negative impacts on your tree.
If you’re struggling with a Mistletoe infestation or are unsure what is growing on your trees, our experienced team of tree professionals is available to help you eradicate it. Call American Tree & Lawn Services today to set up a consultation and learn more. Fill out our contact form or give us a call at (937) 710-3859.