Phoradendron californicum – Mesquite Mistletoe

Phoradendron californicum - Mesquite Mistletoe, Desert Mistletoe (fruit)

Phoradendron californicum - Mesquite Mistletoe, Desert Mistletoe

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Phoradendron californicum

Common Names: Mesquite Mistletoe, Desert Mistletoe

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial

Growth Habit: Shrub, Subshrub, Hemiparasite

Arizona Native Status: Native

Habitat: Desert

Flower Color: Inconspicuous (yellowish)

Flowering Season: Winter, Spring (early)

Height: To 3.3 feet (1 m) long

Description: The plants are dioecious with tiny, inconspicuous, yellowish flowers. The female plants produce numerous, spherical, translucent, white, pink, or red berries that are adored by fruit-eating birds, especially Phainopeplas (Phainopepla nitens). Birds are responsible for spreading and "planting" the seeds in their droppings. The leaves are tiny and scale-like. The stems are green. These aerial hemiparasites grow on the branches of woody shrubs and trees. The main host plants are Acacia, Olneya, Parkinsonia, and Prosopis species, which are desert trees and shrubs in the Pea Family (Fabaceae).


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Santalales
Family: Viscaceae – Christmas Mistletoe family
Genus: Phoradendron Nutt. – mistletoe
Species: Phoradendron californicum Nutt. – mesquite mistletoe

More About This Plant

Arizona County Distribution Map