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I Didn’t Know That!

By Judy Kunz, Colorado Master Gardener

Dwarf mistletoe and juniper mistletoe are small parasitic plants that can cause extensive damage and eventual death to ponderosa, lodgepole, limber pine and pinyon pine, as well as Douglas fir, bristlecone pine and some junipers. The invading plants produce sticky seeds that are expelled through the air at up to 60 mph, adhering to the surface of a susceptible host tree, growing into the tissue and robbing the tree of water and nutrients. Mistletoe is slow to grow but affects a tree’s vigor, eventually killing it. Early symptoms include swelling of the bark near the infection site, yellow or distorted foliage called witches’ broom, and branch death. Mistletoe can be managed in many cases if infestation is not heavy. Treatment includes pruning out affected branches or tree removal in extreme cases.

Dwarf Mistletoe, Photo: Colorado State Forest Service
Witches’ Broom, Photo: extension.umn.edu

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