Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Christmas Fruit Tree Parasite

One of the strangest Christmas traditions is that of kissing under a tree parasite. Yes, Mistletoe is a tree parasite and it has been known to infest fruit trees.

Mistletoe: What are you Really Kissing Under?

Mistletoe hangs from trees and displays its beautiful red berries for the sole purpose of consuming its next victim. As Mistletoe berries ripen, birds are attracted to the bright color and consume them for food. Little do the birds know that once a berry has been eaten, that bird has been solicited to plant Mistletoe seeds on yet another branch. The flesh of mistletoe berries are digested, but the seeds pass through the birds body and are deposited when the bird defecates on the branch where it roosts.

Just because birds eat it, doesn't mean you should! If you haven't yet been impressed by Mistletoe's clever tactics, then let me share one more fact. Mistletoe wants to be spread by birds and birds alone. It is poisonous to mammals so don't eat it! If you do use real Mistletoe as home decor, make sure you wash your hands after handling it.

If you live in a climate where Mistletoe is common and you find it in your fruit trees, simply remove it by pruning the branch where it is located. I do recommend waiting for Christmas to prune your Mistletoe, because even if it is a poisonous parasite that is planted by bird feces, who can turn down a kiss under the Mistletoe!?

Nothing Says Romance Like Kissing Under a Mistletoe Infested Oak

Thank you for visiting this blog! If you have any questions regarding fruit trees or fruit tree pruning, please email me at russ@simplytreesut.com or comment below.