What is misseltoe worth?

truffler1635 at my-deja.com truffler1635 at my-deja.com
Sat Nov 6 02:01:42 EST 1999


A phone call today from a friend has me thinking about another forest
product which is seldom considered as having economic value, but
obviously does. Mistletoe is a parasitic plant. It is often used in
small packages of perhaps .25-.5 ounce near Christmas for hanging about
the house. A lot of people like looking at this white "berries", but I
believe both the plant and berries are poisonous. (Anyone sure about
this?) I have a lot of it on my family's property. It is usually spread
by birds, who eat the berries then defecate on other tree branches. The
seeds sprout, penetrating the wood, and start to sap nutrients from the
host tree.

I've seen masses of mistletoe which probably weigh several pounds each
in older Oregon White oak stands. Assuming I wanted to harvest some, is
there an easier method than shooting it out of the tree with a .22? I
don't have any pole pruner that will reach anywhere near the 30-70 feet
I typically find it in trees, and I usually have to wait until the first
frost to see the plants well. Unless you are a crack shot, this harvest
method seems kind of expensive, too.

Locally, Oregon White oak has value as shiitake bedlogs (logs which
mushrooms are cultivated on), firewood, some timber, wood to create
barrels for aging wine, mast for animals, and an important source of
food for wild turkeys, deer, elk, ravens, crows, and possibly pheasants.

If mistletoe is harvested, what is a reasonable price for it? How much
should harvesters charge? What is the typical harvest method? How much
can be harvested in a day? Any information from people who have actually
commercial harvested the plant are appreciated.

>From Gilkey-Dennis' "Handbook of Northwest Plants" (c. 1967) there
appear to be several species in the PNW:

Arceuthobium americanum Nutt., parasitic on lodgepole pine (Pinus
contorta); and sometimes on Knobcone pine (Pinus attenuata).

A. campylopodum Engelm., parasitic on western yellow pine (P.
ponderosa); and sometimes on Knobcone pine.

A. abietinum Engelm. on true fir (Abies)

A. tsugensis Rosendahl on hemlock (Tsuga)

A. douglasii Engelm. on Douglas fir (Pesudotsuga menziesii)

Phorandendron villosum Nutt. Common mistletoe. Plant shrubby, sometimes
becoming 1 m. or more in diameter on the branches of the host...Common
on oak in our limits.

Of these species, I've also seen two: A. abietinum (uneconomic in my
opinion) and P. villosum, which is often on Oregon White oak (Quercus
garryana).

Daniel B. Wheeler
www.oregonwhitetruffles.com


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