Phoradendron macrophyllum – Colorado Desert Mistletoe

Phoradendron macrophyllum - Colorado Desert Mistletoe, Big Leaf Mistletoe (fruit)

Phoradendron macrophyllum - Colorado Desert Mistletoe, Big Leaf Mistletoe

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Phoradendron macrophyllum

Common Names: Colorado Desert Mistletoe, Big Leaf Mistletoe

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial

Growth Habit: Shrub, Subshrub, Hemiparasite

Arizona Native Status: Native

Habitat: Desert, Riparian. This plant grows in riparian trees in desert washes and canyons.

Flower Color: Inconspicuous (green)

Flowering Season: Winter, Spring (early)

Height: Stems to 3 feet (91 cm) long

Description: The flowers are green and tiny. The female inflorescences (internodes) have 6 to 10 flowers and are followed by white or pink-tinged, round, 1/5 inch (5 mm) in diameter, glabrous berries. Birds eat the berries and are responsible for spreading and "planting" the seeds in their droppings. The leaves are green, opposite, mostly glabrous, up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide, and obovate to rounded in shape. The stems are green and branched. This aerial hemiparasite grows on the woody branches of non-oaks, especially Fraxinus, Platanus, Populus, and Salix species here.

Special Characteristics

Poisonous – This plant and its bitter, white to pinkish berries are poisonous.


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 macrophyllum (Engelm.) Cockerell – Colorado Desert mistletoe

More About This Plant

Arizona County Distribution Map