November 17

For this Parasite, It’s Christmas Year Round


Picture this. It’s the annual holiday party at your Aunt Rudy’s house. Your cousin Emily and her new partner Jack find themselves standing beneath a sprig of mistletoe, both sporting goofy, ugly sweaters. Their faces light up with surprise and amusement as they realize their accidental position under the mistletoe. Amidst the festivities, they shared a jovial laugh and embrace the holiday spirit.

Little did they know, this seemingly harmless holiday symbol was actually a parasite, stealing life from the trees to which it clings.

Did you know that mistletoe is a parasite? Yep, the festive garland known for evoking a stolen Christmas kiss lives off of trees!

Etymology of the Holidays

Ancient Anglo-Saxons noticed that mistletoe often grows where birds leave droppings, which is how mistletoe got its name: In Anglo-Saxon, “mistel” means “dung” and “tan” means “twig,” hence, “dung-on-a-twig.”

Mistletoe Parasite Etymology

Year Round Sightings

For customers in Jackson County, mistletoe is visible year-round in bushy green circles populating area Oak trees. The wet weather in the Portland Metro Area makes it too difficult for mistletoe to stick onto trees, making it less of a problem for that part of Oregon. Though mistletoe grows around the world. According to the National Wildlife Foundation, there are 1,300 mistletoe species worldwide. The continental United States and Canada are home to more than 30 species, and Hawaii harbors another six.

Mistletoes can be found in various parts of the world, spanning continents like North America and Europe, with a significant presence in regions across Asia, Africa, and Australia. They often grow in diverse ecosystems, attaching themselves to trees in temperate forests, woodlands, and even in some arid or tropical environments. Not every tree service company has the capacity or the knowledge to deal with this difficult species. 

Identifying mistletoe on oak trees can be tricky—we often ponder whether it’s an oak tree with mistletoe or a mistletoe-covered tree. But here’s the critical distinction: if a tree is completely enveloped by mistletoe, it’s likely in perilous condition, at risk of slowly succumbing to this parasitic plant. The mistletoe might even be consuming the tree’s foundation. If you suspect this scenario, it’s vital to act promptly. Reach out to us at Beaver Tree Service, and we’ll provide the expertise and assistance needed to address this potential danger before it worsens.

How Does Mistletoe Spead?

The parasite grows into a tree’s vascular system and steals water and nutrients. Over time, the tree can become weak and can die. Mistletoe spreads when birds eat the parasites’ berries. The birds fly from tree to tree, pooping out the seeds where they grow into a new parasitic bush. Apparently, “mistletoe has another method of seed dispersal. Ripe seeds can explode at the rate of 60 miles per hour, scattering the seeds 50 feet away to start a new plant,” according to this article in The Kansas City Star. Read more here.

Beaver Tree Services - Mistletoe Parasite

Can I Help Prevent Mistletoe

For residents in Jackson County such as Ashland, Medford, Talent, Jacksonville, and Central Point, our recommendation stands firm: removing mistletoe is crucial to maintain the health of Oak trees. For assistance in properly removing this parasite, our team at Beaver Tree Service is ready to offer a quote tailored to your needs. Contact us via phone or email to get started!

  • PORTLAND METRO OFFICE: (503) 224-1338
  • SOUTHERN OREGON OFFICE: (541) 779-7072
  • EMAIL ADDRESS: [email protected]

Beaver Tree Service are experienced arborists in Beaverton, Portland, and Medford, Oregon. They can provide commercial tree service for the people of Oregon. Contact Beaver Tree Service today!


mistletoe, parasite

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