Updated: Feb 20
Christmas has come and gone, but there's still time to get that kiss under the mistletoe! As we exit winter and head into the spring, I get countless calls about the status of mistletoe removal. This is mostly due to the fact that the Mesquite trees have dropped their leaves, exposing the parasitic plant. This morning, I'd like to explain some facts, myths, AND what we do about it.
While mistletoe is a parasite, and takes nutrients from is host plant, it is not necessarily the kiss of death. Mistletoe preys on weak or vulnerable trees, often already compromised by something else (disease, drought, insects). Many arborists will agree that mistletoe generally is not the cause of death, when you lose a tree covered in mistletoe. That being said, mistletoe is unsightly, and clearly not the ideal situation for the tree, so I'd like to share with you exactly what we do in order to lesson the impact of this pest to our golf course.
Once a mistletoe plant has found it's host plant, it is virtually impossible to remove it all together. But cutting out pieces as it grows, is a good option for keeping it at bay. If there is an already sick tree, that has a mistletoe infestation, we oftentimes remove the tree all together, as it would have died with or without the mistletoe. Throughout the week, every week, I have people on my staff that remove mistletoe from trees as a part of our routine tree maintenance. Again, we don't completely remove the infestation, but eliminate the unwelcome sight.
There are several mistletoe bundles on trees that I consider to be out of our reach. We do not have personnel trained in tree climbing so we outsource that work in the summer time.
The question I receive the most is "If we don't remove all the mistletoe from the property immediately the birds will spread the seed and it will become out of control!" Keep in mind, there is mistletoe in the native deserts outside of our 400 acres of property, and birds are notorious for crossing property lines. We do what we can do to manage the situation, while understanding that the threat of death to all trees on property isn't as imminent as some rumors may suggest.
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