Juniper Mistletoe

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Who’d a thought? Chunks of wood, old, dried, and dead-looking can be host to long-lived, flowering plants. They might barely be visible, some just a splotch of color against gray bark, but on close looks are complex clusters of flowering leaves. The other day, my friend Grant found a stalk with joints hosting flowering bits that I’m calling Lil’ Grant. It’s propped against a tree and here’s a photo.

Lil’ Grant

Some of its growths are apparent along the trunk as yellowish blobs. Among the various joints are many tiny and colorful spots. We tried to identify the various flora without success as my phone’s plant app couldn’t capture them in enough clarity.

Yesterday, while clearing property and removing more old wood, I discovered the wood shown in today’s header photo. My phone app nailed its large flowering spots as “Juniper Mistletoe”. This excited my imagination, for after all, anything mistletoe springs memories of long-ago holiday parties and hopes of meeting someone special beneath a hanging mistletoe.

According to Wikipedia, Phoradendron juniperinum is a species of flowering plant in the sandalwood family known by the common name juniper mistletoe. It is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. This tiny parasitic shrub attaches itself to a host tree and taps it for water and nutrients. The shrub produces little-bitty flowers and tiny berries. Birds eat them and spread the seeds.

The problem with these discoveries is a conflict about whether to discard living plants. Especially those tough enough to survive for a long time in almost impossible places. Plus, they’re pretty. My gathering and burning now is on hold while I wrap my head around having discovered these flora, their lovely images, and the ideas they offer.

Dear Friends: It’s that a pile of sticks may turn into more than a pile of sticks, isn’t it? Diana

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