Strausbaugh, Perry D. Department of Botany, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Core, Earl L. Department of Biology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
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The name given to several species of green hemiparasitic plants in the order Santalales. The true mistletoe of Europe is Viscum album (see illustration). This plant, which grows on host trees, has dichotomously branching stems, thick leathery leaves, and waxy-white berries. Among the early nations of Europe, the mistletoe was an important ceremonial plant, which probably accounts for the origin of the custom of kissing under the mistletoe. In the United States, the common representative of the group is Phoradendron leucarpum (also P. flavescens). All of the mistletoes are green hemiparasites; that is, they obtain water and minerals from the host plant, but manufacture their own food. See also: Parasitology; Plant pathology; Santalales
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