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Viscaceae
Plants of the Mistletoe Family

      We are often repulsed by anything that is parasitic, but this is not the case with the mistletoe. You have probably seen it at Christmas time-maybe you have even gotten a kiss underneath it! Mistletoes are semi-parasites. They take water and inorganic nutrients from the host trees, but produce their own sugars through photosynthesis. I remember selling mistletoe with the Boy Scouts as a fundraiser. I knew that it grew on the branches of the trees it fed on, and I always wanted to see it that way-instead of in a box.

      Mistletoe is surprisingly common, but most species are small and inconspicuous, particularly in the northern states. Botanically, the small flowers may be bisexual or not, with 3 (sometimes 2 to 5) sepals, 0 petals, and the same number of stamens as sepals. The ovary is positioned inferior, consisting of 3 or 4 united carpels (syncarpous), forming a single chamber. The fruit is a berry or a drupe (a fleshy fruit with a stony pit). Worldwide, there are 11 genera and 450 species, including 2 genera in North America. Viscum is the European mistletoe. Mistletoes can absorb toxins from the host trees (Tyler). A single species of mistletoe is often parasitic on a single species of tree.

Key Words: Green plants parasitic on tree branches.

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Arceuthobium cyanocarpum. Limber Pine Mistletoe.

Arceuthobium cyanocarpum. Limber Pine Mistletoe.

Arceuthobium cyanocarpum. Limber Pine Mistletoe.

Arceuthobium cyanocarpum. Limber Pine Mistletoe. London Hills, Montana.

Phoradendron juniperinum. Juniper Mistletoe.

Phoradendron juniperinum. Juniper Mistletoe. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Utah.

Phoradendron juniperinum. Juniper Mistletoe.

Phoradendron juniperinum. Juniper Mistletoe. Natural Bridges National Monument. Utah.

There are more
Mistletoe Family pictures
at PlantSystematics.org.


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Thomas J. Elpel
Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, andthe Blossoming of Human Spirit
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Living
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Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.
Participating
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Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
Foraging the
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Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
Botany
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Shanleya's Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids
Shanleya's
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