Question: Does mistletoe harm a shade tree? How can I get rid of it?

Answer: Mistletoe is a parasitic plant. As such, it can definitely hurt your trees as it develops its roots into the wood of the branches and sucks the very life from them. Unfortunately, there is no chemical spray that will safely control it without harming the host tree, so pruning is your only good solution. Birds carry its sticky seeds on their beaks, then wipe them off on small twigs. Use a pole pruner and its lopping shears to trim it out the first winter that you see it, while the tree’s twigs are still very small. If you let it grow for several years the roots will be far deeper into the limbs and you will not be able to remove them. By then the branches will be several inches in diameter and you will probably not want to remove them entirely. If you have a tree that is totally infested you probably should just keep the mistletoe trimmed off each winter, even though it will come back the following spring.

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