01.01.15 - Wild New Jersey and Beyond
Phoradendron leucarpum- Oak Mistletoe

Phoradendron leucarpum- Oak Mistletoe

A fascinating semi-parasitic evergreen sub-shrub. This plant produces pretty white berries that the birds like. After it passes through the digestive tract of the bird, the sticky pulp containing seeds adheres to any branch it may fall on and roots work their way into the cracks of bark and plants will sprout up. The plant was given the name “misteltan” in Old English from “mistel”, which means “dung”, and “tan”, the plural of “ta”, meaning “twig”. Hence, “mistletoe” literally means “dung twig”. Nice! It's usually found on Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica) and Red Maple (Acer rubrum) trees in NJ. This plant is quite rare in NJ, ranked an S2 by the State's Natural Heritage Program, but more common in the south. These were photographed in Cape May County.