Mistletoe in my Ponderosa pines

Asked October 23, 2016, 1:27 PM EDT

We recently bought a 52 acre parcel in Black forest. A quarter of this property is heavily treed and has mistletoe. Can you tell me if there are any organizations out there that would come out and evaluate the area and help us decide how to manage the problem. For starters, we are considering creating a 50 foot barrier (cutting trees down) between trees that appear to not have been infected yet and those that have. We could use some help deciding what trees need cutting. Also, if we cut an infected tree down, do we have to remove the tree from the forest to prevent the disease from spreading? Will the seeds shoot out to other trees if the infected tree is cut down and laying on the ground? Can the seeds still pop and spread spores from a cut tree that is on the ground? If we ran the branches of infected trees through a mulcher, would that prevent the spread? Is it ok to use the mulch of infected trees on the forest floor? Any help you can provide would be much appreciated. We would like to get to work on managing this problem as soon as able.

Thanks,

Holly Pilbrow

El Paso County Colorado trees and shrubs

4 Responses

Holly Pilbrow,

Thank you for your questions.

Colorado State University provides an excellent fact sheet. Please read it and let us know if you have any additional questions.

http://static.colostate.edu/client-files/csfs/pdfs/DMT.pdf

Hi Kerry. I did read the entire fact sheet before writing to "ask an expert". The fact sheet did not address or answer my questions adequately, which is why I wrote to "ask an expert". Questions I still have are:
Can you recommend "someone" who could come to our property and help us figure out/recommend a plan of action? Are there any expert volunteers willing to do this? Also, f we cut an infected tree down, do we have to remove the tree from the forest to prevent the disease from spreading? Will the seeds shoot out to other trees if the infected tree is cut down and laying on the ground? Can the seeds still pop and spread spores from a cut tree that is on the ground? If we ran the branches of infected trees through a mulcher, would that prevent the spread? Is it ok to use the mulch of infected trees on the forest floor?

Hi Holly,

Your Question: Can you recommend "someone" who could come to our property and help us figure out/recommend a plan of action?

Answer: "Ask an Expert" cannot legally recommend "someone"/a person or business. We do not have volunteers that provide this service. However, as the fact sheet states, you have the option to call a professional forester, or the Colorado State Forest Service to obtain help in making these decisions. If and when choosing a professional make sure they have a current licence and are bonded.

Your Questions: Also, f we cut an infected tree down, do we have to remove the tree from the forest to prevent the disease from spreading? Will the seeds shoot out to other trees if the infected tree is cut down and laying on the ground? Can the seeds still pop and spread spores from a cut tree that is on the ground? If we ran the branches of infected trees through a mulcher, would that prevent the spread?

Answer: Mistletoe shoots die as soon as the tree branch is cut. They cannot shoot seeds when they are dead. The seeds cannot shoot out if the tree is cut down and laying on the ground. They cannot spread if they are mulched. The seeds cannot shoot spores if the tree branch has been cut. However, as the fact sheet states, the seeds can be occasionally spread to uninfected trees by birds.

Q. Is it ok to use the mulch of infected trees on the forest floor?

Two-Fold

A. 1) In a natural setting, mulch is constantly added to the forest floor by fallen leaves, needles, twigs, pieces of bark, spent flower blossoms, fallen fruit and other organic material. Insects, microorganisms, and fungi break down this material, creating a biologically diverse and nutrient rich soil environment. Mulched mistletoe will not harm the forest floor.

A. 2) As beneficial as mulch is, too much can be harmful. A new term, “mulch volcano,” has emerged to describe mulch that has been piled up around the base of trees. An even spread would be recommended.


Perfect. Thank you!