Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Oak Mistletoe, American Mistletoe
Phoradendron serotinum

Family: Santalaceae
Genus: Phoradendron (for-uh-DEN-dron) (Info)
Species: serotinum (se-roh-TEE-num) (Info)

Synonym:Phoradendron eatonii
Synonym:Phoradendron leucarpum
Synonym:Phoradendron macrotomum
Synonym:Phoradendron orbiculatum
Synonym:Viscum oblongifolium

8 members have or want this plant for trade.

Parasites and Hemiparasites

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

Unknown - Tell us

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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No positives
1 neutral
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative liltexasgal On Jan 13, 2013, liltexasgal from Blum, TX wrote:

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do NOT attempt to cultivate this plant! We have lost MANY oak trees to this invasive parasitic plant in the last couple of years. Now most of our oak trees are dead! I would be more than happy to send you a box FULL of this aweful stuff for you to have your way with as long as you DO NOT let the seeds out...especially for birds becuase that's how we ended up with so much of it. HORRIBLE, aweful, UGLY, nasty, plague-ishly invasive, PLEASE do not cultivate!

Negative gooley On Dec 15, 2009, gooley from Hawthorne, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Probably I'm being irrational, assigning this a negative rating simply because it's a parasite. I'm pretty sure that this is the species ubiquitous here in neglected pecan groves, often forming globes of foliage six feet in diameter, high in the bigger trees. To a lesser degree it grows on oaks, mostly species of red oak and not too often on live oaks -- or is it just harder to spot on oaks that are almost evergreen? I suppose that one could shoot it down with a rifle in order to have it for Christmas decorations, as I hear is done in other parts of the South, but I've never seen it offered at e.g. farmer's markets in the Christmas season. Apparently it can be killed by spraying with 2,4-D when the host tree is dormant, if successes at Texas A&M are any indication; the host tree may lose the branch or limb to which the mistletoe is attached, but it will kill the parasite. (Pecan's long dormant period may be a help here.)

Neutral Floridian On Nov 5, 2001, Floridian from Lutz, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Mistletoe is a semi-parasite on trees. It is an evergreen shrub that forms clumps 1-3' in diameter on branches of broad-leaved trees. Mistletoe leaves are opposite, thick and leathery, oval to round, and 1-2" long. The flowers are small and inconspicuous and the fruits are white or yellowish berries about a quarter inch in diameter. The bushy clumps, usually on branches near treetop, are most visible in winter on deciduous trees that have lost their leaves. Mistletoe can occur on almost any forest tree. It's common on live oaks. Mistletoe has chlorophyll and produces its own food, but it also has modified roots that extend into the host tree's circulatory system to derive water and minerals. It is not a serious pest, however, and even heavy infestations cause little loss of vigor to the host tree.

Folklore has it: that Mistletoe is the mystic plant of the air, whose roots were up there and not in earth. Mistletoe is used for protecting one from lightning, diseases, misfortunes, fires, by being carried or placed in the appropriate spots. If placed in a cradle it will protect the child from being stolen by fairies and replaced with changelings. A ring carved of its wood will ward off sickness when worn and the plant will cure fresh wounds quickly if carried. Carried or worn for good luck in hunting, mistletoe is also used by women to aid in conception. It is used in spells to capture that elusive state of immortality and to open locks. If laid in the bedroom beneath the pillow, hung on the bedpost, or by the door, it provides restful sleep and beautiful dreams. Burned it banishes evil, and if worn around the neck allows its wearer to attain invisibility.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Bartow, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Hawthorne, Florida
La Grange, Kentucky
Princess Anne, Maryland
Greenville, North Carolina
Cibolo, Texas

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