Mistletoe in Illinois

Find out more about the origins and habitats of the mistletoe plant.

| May 2018

  • mistletoe
    Discover the locations in Illinois that you can find this type of mistletoe and see if any locations are close to you.
    Photo by Pixabay/suju
  • nightshades
    “Mistletoe to Nightshades” by Robert H. Mohlenbrock, is for anyone interested in the mistletoe or dicot plant families.
    Courtesy of Southern Illinois University Press

  • mistletoe
  • nightshades

Nightshades to Mistletoes (Southern Illinois University Press, 1990) by Robert H. Mohlenbrock, is a must read for those interested in illustrated flora of Illinois. Find out more about the dicotyledons or flowers that form two seed leaves. There are many flowers that belong in this group. Find out which ones are in the state of Illinois or possibly growing near you in other Midwestern states. This excerpt can be found the chapter, “Phoradendron.”

Common Name:  Mistletoe.

Habitat: Parasitic on trees or shrubs,  mostly in low woods.

Range:  New Jersey  to  Missouri,  south  to Texas and Florida; New Mexico.



Illinois Distribution: Occasionally in the southern one-sixth of the state, but extending along the Wabash River to Clark County.

Mistletoe is a remarkable plant in the Illinois flora. Al­though possessing chlorophyll in its leaves that enables it to manufacture food, it also obtains nutrients from the host species it parasitizes. The hosts in southern Illinois for the mis­tletoe include American elm and sweet gum. Excessive numbers of mistletoe plants on a single host may ultimately result in the death of the host.

Mistletoe seeds are dissiminated by birds that attempt to eat the berries. The sticky berries adhere to the bird's beak. In order to rid itself of the berry, the bird will rub its beak back and forth on the branch of a tree,  finally transferring the berry from beak to branch.

Because of its popularity at Christmastime  as a traditional dec­oration, mistletoe  is sought after and is becoming less common in Illinois.

The flowers bloom during September and October.

Reprinted with Permission from Flowering Plants: Nightshades to Mistletoe (The Illustrated Flora of Illinois) by Robert M. Holenbrock and Published by Southern Illinois University Press.










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