A dead juniper with the stems of mistletoe still attached
We go on mistletoe patrol several times a year to get rid of the parasitic plant off of our native California Junipers ( Juniperus Californica). We have close to 100 of these beautiful evergreens on our 5 acres so it takes a little time to get to each one. Our cabin is located in the Joshua-Juniper woodland with the Juniper being the dominant shrub of the region.
Mistletoe attached to juniper, notice the lighter green color. Sometimes the mistletoe is a dark green and hard to spot amongst the juniper foliage.
How wonderful they are to have in the desert! Evergreen, reddish exfoliating bark, no watering needed, beautiful blue berries and they are dense so they provide a nice screen from neighbors if we had any close by! What more of a plant could you ask. Deer will browse them and so will wild horses, burros and our huge jack rabbits. Coyotes and birds will eat the berries.
Our daily coyote :))
California juniper mistletoe (Phoradendron Juniperinum) inhabits these junipers. And in my area the mistletoe is everywhere. Do they kill the junipers, no not really but they take a lot of nourishment away from the plant particularly when there is a drought . We can tell the difference between the junipers we have cleaned from a few years ago to the ones out in the desert still full of mistletoe.
One of the birds that come to feast on mistletoe berries is the Phainopepla, a beautiful almost all black bird (has white on his wings when he flies). Since we have been cleaning up the mistletoe we have seen a decrease of this bird on our property. But there is plenty of mistletoe berries elsewhere for them.
We also have had infestations of the leaffooted plant bug that come and scarify the berries. There are so many of them you can hear their mouth parts on the berries! It is actually noisy. But luckily they come and go within two weeks, but there are thousands of them.