Jepson Flora Project: Jepson Interchange    

 
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  • Up-to-date information about California vascular plants is available from the Jepson eFlora.

VISCACEAE

MISTLETOE FAMILY

Frank G. Hawksworth and Delbert Wiens

Perennial, shrub, generally ± green, parasitic on aboveground parts of woody plants, dioecious or monoecious
Stem brittle; 2° branches generally many
Leaves simple, entire, opposite, 4-ranked, with blade or leaves scale-like (then each pair generally fused)
Inflorescence: spikes or open cymes, generally axillary, sometimes terminal; bracts opposite, 4-ranked, scale-like, each pair fused
Flower unisexual, radial, 2–4 mm; perianth parts in generally ± 1 series
Staminate flower: perianth parts 3–4(7); anthers generally ± sessile, opposite and generally on perianth parts
Pistillate flower: perianth parts generally 2–4; ovary inferior, 1-chambered, style unbranched, stigma ± obscure
Fruit: berry, shiny, gelatinous
Seeds 1(–2), without thickened coat
Genera in family: 7 genera, ± 450 species: tropical, generally n temp
Reference: [Kuijt 1982 J Arnold Arbor 63:401–410]
Sometimes included in Loranthaceae; parasitic on plants in many other families. Frs generally dispersed by birds or seeds explosively ejected. All parts of most members may be TOXIC.

VISCUM

MISTLETOE

Shrub, glabrous, evergreen, dioecious in CA
Stem generally < 20 cm, rounded, green, less often reddish; 2° branches opposite, sometimes whorled and in > 1 plane
Leaf: blade well developed
Inflorescence: cymes, few-flowered, dense, short-peduncled or sessile, subtended by pair of fused bracts
Flower: perianth parts generally 4
Staminate flower: anthers several-chambered
Pistillate flower: perianth parts generally deciduous
Fruit 6–10 mm, ± spheric, white in CA, maturing (in temp) in 2 seasons, dispersed by consumption (by birds); pedicel short, ± straight, or 0
Species in genus: ± 125 species: temp, tropical, Old World
Etymology: (Latin: mistletoe)
Reference: [Hawksworth & Scharpf 1987 Eur J Forest Path 16:1–5]

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