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(Christmas Mistletoe family)


Formerly included in the Loranthaceae, the 450 species in 8 genera found in tropical and temperate regions are photosynthesising hemi-parasites on trees. The parasitic root of Viscum branches within the tissues of the host.

[Summary yet to be added]

Phoradendron leucarpum Reveal & M.C.Johnst.
[syns Phoradendron eatonii Trel., Phoradendron flavescens Nutt., Phoradendron macrotomum Trel., Phoradendron serotinum M.C.Johnst., Viscum flavescens Pursh]
American Mistletoe, Oak Mistletoe, Eastern Mistletoe, Hairy Mistletoe, Pacific Mistletoe, Western Mistletoe

A case of vesicular striate dermatitis from gathering Phoradendron flavescens was reported by O'Farrell (1943). A patch test to the leaf produced a positive reaction; control tests were not recorded.

Viscum album L.
European Mistletoe

This species of folk-lore appeared in the British Pharmaceutical Codex of 1934. A sticky substance from the plant, known as bird-lime, was used on fly-papers.

Astringent and irritant properties are ascribed to Viscum spp. (Pammel 1911, Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).


  • O'Farrell, N.M. (1943) Dermatitis venenata due to mistletoe. Archs Derm. Syph. 43: 416.
  • Pammel LH (1911) A Manual of Poisonous Plants. Chiefly of North America, with Brief Notes on Economic and Medicinal Plants, and Numerous Illustrations. Cedar Rapids, IA: Torch Press [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Watt JM, Breyer-Brandwijk MG (1962) The Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Southern and Eastern Africa. Being an account of their medicinal and other uses, chemical composition, pharmacological effects and toxicology in man and animal, 2nd edn. Edinburgh: E & S Livingstone [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]

Richard J. Schmidt

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