California Hillbilly
Jun 30, 2008
Near Yosemite in CA USA
I know I know.. this has probably been a subject before... But... I just want to get some input here from all of you.
I do a lot of mistletoe removal here in both oaks and pines.
Pines suffer it badly here especially the gray pine (bull pine). It seems to kill the gray pine fast. Or succeeds in delivering the final blow fast.
We have a lot of "green" and environmental types here that want the mistletoe for habitat reasons and such. Others want it erradicated.
I have never seen ANY tree do better for having it and see a lot of fire wood standing because of it.
What is your experience out there with the critter and just out of curiosity, how do you estimate your work for the removal.
I make good money on it when I remove it, but I always have a hard time estimating the tree and just go hourly when I do it.
Like I said ... Just throwing this out there for all opinions and experience.
"We have a lot of "green" and environmental types here that want the mistletoe for habitat reasons and such.

Point out the acres of undisturbed forest for parasites to thrive in.

"I have never seen ANY tree do better for having it and see a lot of fire wood standing because of it.

Me too.

"I always have a hard time estimating the tree and just go hourly when I do it.

Me too. ;)
Mistletoe is a parasite that roots into the host tree. Breaking it off won't eliminate it, it will resprout. I try to remove the host limb whenever possible. The larger the clump, the further back I'll cut to remove the roots. A big clump can root back 3' or more into the host limb. Like Butch, I've never seen it in a pine before.

If it's in the trunk and fat limbwood, all you can do is just knock it off and hope to slow it down.

Anyone that wants to keep it for 'environmental' reasons has no frikkin clue what they're talking about. I'm glad I don't live in the land of fruits and nuts. :roll:

As far as time, it's all just part of the normal trimming procedure. Sometimes it goes faster if the tree has big clumps of mistletoe because you remove a good part of the crown instead of nitpicking it.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #5
Yes, I do point out the forest and the "plenty" of the the mistletoe in the surrounding area. That seems to help the decision. As I live in the midst of BLM and national forest.. there is a lot of it that will never go away... LOL
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #8
Believe it or not Butch.. I have seen it also in Manzanita and Bay Laural... just this year. Pine had a couple different varities that look more like a yellow moss that the leafy type most are used to seeing.. In the lumber industry, they often use a maintenance program to rid the trees of it as it distorts the wood for lumber and also kills the trees.
Mistletoe jobs are rather taxing in the tree physically in my book, but it does help make me a better climber for what I have to do to get to the tops etc. A pole saw combo pruner is a must and gets hard on the shoulders and such just cutting with it. MUST REACH BRANCH.. LOL

Brian .. that is good to know about the root structure, as the general rule is 3-6" cut back from the infection. I will have to keep that in mind.

I have heard you can wrap the tree where you have "shaved" the mistletoe to devoid it of light etc to kill it as it does need its own photosynthisis but obviously you would have to remove the "bandage" in a couple years. Tar paper and plastic trash bags have been suggested for this type of procedure. Any one heard of this or tried it?
Keep in mind while bidding that from the ground you can usually only see from 1/4 to 1/2 of the mistletoe that is up there. So I bid enough time to climb/bucket the whole canopy and figure there will be a bunch more little sprigs up there that I can't see from the ground. I do just like Brian said that if the limb is too large to remove or it's on the trunk then I shave it off and if not then I cut back to the next crotch usually. I understand that it is primarily spread by birds and if you are surrounded by forest land that is infested then you should keep pretty busy.:) I understand that if you wrap it in plastic and duct tape it then you will probably kill the mistletoe but that some mold/fungus may start growing under the plastic.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #13
That puts some perspective on that Steve.. TY.. Funny how I have noticed and tell the customer that I wont know how bad till I get into the tree... and never thought of it in percentages in the bid or estimate... TY
Who paints cuts anymore???

Spray undercoating is way too expensive these days to be painting cuts with.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #15
I have stopped painting or mastic-ing cuts these days as so many up here have stopped. I have also read where it can also promote further decay or molding by doing so. The trees I have seen that have not been painted during branching have not shown any signs of any detriment in the last 5 years ,,,, and some longer showed good healing. Now I dont live in a moist climate (humidity) so that may be pron to my climate where as a more humid climate may benefit from sealing wounds....
Opinions are welcome here.
I'm not sure how far the range extends on the broad leafed introduced variety of MT. But it has reeked havoc on the inland oaks in the northern counties. Whole hillsides wiped out to standing snags.

The native variety on the coast and Sierra affect the pine and white fir mostly. It's foliage is not broad leafed. Seldom does the native variety outright destroy the tree. It just slowly wears it down.

One fellow in Sonoma County, his name is Sam Noonan, cuts the Mt off and wraps black plastic,or roofing paper around the wound to starve the MT of light. How successful he is at it I really don't know. Maybe someone could chime in on that subject. Hey?
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #17
Yes I would like to hear more about the wrapping of it if any one has tried it.
OBTW... a common program of maintainence here is a shot gun with bird shot via the ol timers.. thought ya'll would get a chuckle out of that..:)
Yup, they shoot mistletoe here.. LOL
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #19
Duct tape might actually work as it does degrade with sunlight exposure and weather... thus not girdling the limb. Less visits to remove. Hmmmmm might be a solution.
Thanks for the offer of a snack, Butch, but no thanks. :D

Couldn't attach the whole study. Pruning out big healthy wood just because of nearby mistletoe seems like extreme wounding, and by the looks of the research, ineffective. I scrape the green root/haustoria off and spray goopy paint; seems to work pretty well. :X

Strategies and Treatments for Leafy Mistletoe ( Phoradendron tomentosum[DC.] Engelm ex. Gray) Suppression on Cedar Elm ( Ulmus crassifolia Nutt.)

W. Todd Watson and Tomas Martinez-Trinidad

Abstract. Leafy mistletoe, Phoradendron tomentosum (DC.) Engelm ex. Gray, can adversely affect trees growing in urban environments. The efficacy of several methods for controlling P. tomentosum in Ulmus crassifolia was evaluated in two separate trials. In the first experiment, eight treatments with five replicate trees, 20.3 to 30.5 cm (8.1 to 12.2 in) dbh, were evaluated. Removal of the branch 30.5 cm (12.2 in) below the mistletoe, removal of mistletoe, and treating the branch bark with naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) or a caulking compound in which mistletoe was removed resulted in reduced regrowth of the ectophyte (>90%) after 5 months. The use of growth regulator and herbicides (ethephon, 2,4-D, and glyphosate) on intact mistletoe plants in experiment 1 did not provide acceptable control of mistletoe. After 29 months, only removal of the branch and caulking over the bark after mistletoe removal demonstrated a significant long-term effect on mistletoe mortality (40% and 57%, respectively). In the second experiment, a new treatment was evaluated based on the results from the first experiment. The use of NAA and light exclusion (black latex paint) reduced the resprouting of mistletoe by 50% after 8 months, but this effect diminished over time. However, 16 months after application, NAA and paint significantly reduced regrowth compared with removing mistletoe alone. This study provides strategies to achieve acceptable short-term control and long-term management of leafy mistletoe in urban
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #25
WOW tree great stats... I am lovin this.. so as I read it.. the defoliant did not harbor the growth as much as treating it directly with chemical NAA and covering the growth zone.... Along with paint.. this is good stuff. I am gathering that no ONE treatment other than cutting it out on given parameters and also applying said treatments is very effective on oaks.
Now granted we can not use defoliant on the live oaks but the better numbers read that it is not necessary save for the additional treatments described eliminating the defoliant which I have to do any way for the live oak. Like this thread! Thank you for that post!
Last edited: