Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Arceuthobium Sp. - Dwarf Mistletoe

Family: Santalaceae - Christmas Mistletoe (Previously in Viscaceae)[E-flora]

"Perennial herb, shrub, glabrous. Stem: generally < 20 cm, ± angled at least when young, ± yellow, ± green, brown, purple; branches whorled or in 1 plane. Leaf: < 1 mm, scale-like. Inflorescence: generally spikes, peduncle short; flowers generally opposite, 4-ranked, less often whorled or 1, terminal. Staminate flower: perianth parts generally 3–4; anthers ± 1-chambered. Pistillate flower: perianth parts 2, persistent, minute. Fruit: generally 2–5 mm, broadly fusiform-spheric, 2-colored (1 color below, 1 above); pedicel short, recurved; seeds projected to 15 m by fruit explosion.
26 species: temperate, tropics northern hemisphere. (Greek: juniper, life) [Nickrent et al. 2004 Amer J Bot 91:125–138] Most important of timber pathogens; most species cause abnormal branching (witches' brooms) in hosts. Recent molecular studies support reunification of many western North American species under Arceuthobium campylopodum." [Jepson]

Local Species;

  1. Arceuthobium americanum - American dwarf mistletoe [E-flora]
  2. Arceuthobium tsugense - Hemlock Dwarf Mistletoe [E-flora]

Non-local Species(??);

Key to the Species and Taxonomic Notes


Mistletoe used to be something nice to eat, but the Coyote got mean with it & put it so as nobody can eat it. Tast’ú•t grows on dead trees, like a head of lettuce. [It's an old] Salmon River story. Coyote came upon girls picking mistletoe, it used to be something good to eat, & when the girls refused Coyote he got mad at them & said all right, I will turn what you are gathering then. And so, mistletoe has been no good to eat every since. [Harrington, 1942]

Medicinal Uses

Uses of Non-local Sp.

Digger Pine Dwarf Mistletoe - Arceuthobium occidentale

Pineland Dwarf Mistletoe - Arceuthobium Vaginatum


  1. americanum&redblue=Both&lifeform=4, Accessed Jan 18, 2015
  2. [Jepson] Job Kuijt, 2013. Arceuthobium, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Jan 18 2015
  3. [UMD-Eth] Accessed Jan 18, 2015
  4. [Harrington, 1942] Harrington, John P. 1942. Alsea, Siuslaw, Coos, Southwest Oregon Athapaskan: Vocabularies, Linguistic Notes, Ethnographic and Historical Notes. John Peabody Harrington Papers, Alaska/Northwest Coast, in National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC.

Arceuthobium americanum - American dwarf mistletoe

"General: Perennial parasitic shrub; stems yellow-green, smooth, usually tufted, 2-18 cm long; segments usually 1-2 mm thick; accessory branches usually several per node, whorled, in more than 1 plane." [IFBC-E-flora]

Habitat/Range: "Parasitic on Pinus in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; infrequent in S BC, rare W of Coast-Cascade Mountains; E to MB and S to CO, UT, NV and CA." [IFBC-E-flora]

Status: Native. [E-flora]


Arceuthobium tsugense - Hemlock Dwarf Mistletoe

Subtaxa present in B.C.;


Page last modified on Saturday, January 8, 2022 10:52 AM