Parasitic Plants and How to Remove Them

parasitic plant cuscuta

parasitic plant cuscutaJohnson City, TN

There’s a harmony and balance to nature. Sometimes, however, certain plants can attack others, compromising their appearance and even threatening their health. Parasitic plants can be deadly to your trees, so it is important to know what these plants look like, the signs of infection and what to do if they infiltrate your property. Your tree health professionals in Kingsport at Promier Tree explore this topic, today on the blog.

Common parasitic plants in East Tennessee

Mistletoe – This plant is far more than just a Christmas decorating tradition. It actually is easiest identified on trees in the winter, after leaves have fallen. You can know mistletoe from its distinct green leaves and stems, along with its white berries. Here in East Tennessee, mistletoe is found most often in oaks, elms, sycamores and wild cherry trees. Mistletoe roots into the bark and connects with a tree’s vascular system, stealing water and nutrients. It makes sense, then, that the genus for oak mistletoe in the Greek language is Phoradendron, which translates to “tree thief.”

Cuscuta – This is a leafless variety of morning glories and a notorious parasitic plant species that can be found all across the United States. This is a twining, vine-like plant that ranges in color from brown to light orange. Its appearance even has been compared to spaghetti or silly string, due to the thick mass of vining stems. Dodder relies on nutrients from host plants to survive and, if not detected, can spread to cover the entire canopy of a tree.

American cancer-root – You also may have heard this plant referred to as bear corn or squawroot. This is a wildflower that can be found just about anywhere east of the Mississippi River, up to and including this region of East Tennessee. Recognized by its clumps of yellow-brown growth and total absence of green, this plant siphons nutrients from the roots of other plants. The good news is, unlike mistletoe and cuscuta, it poses no great health risk to host plants, according to research.

How can I tell if a parasitic plant is affecting my trees?

Know the signs that a parasitic plant may have taken up root (pun intended) to leech off of one of your trees.

The warning signs include:

  • An unusual quantity of twigs or branches that grow from a single branch
  • A large mass that is swollen and growing from the trunk
  • Dead sections of tree bark

Protect your trees with professional care

When it comes to removing parasitic plants or dealing with any other sort of infestation or disease that is impacting your trees in Kingsport, Johnson City, Bristol or the surrounding areas in East Tennessee, trust in the professional expertise provided at Promier Tree. Our team has decades of combined experience and each of our arborists is ISA-certified and knowledgeable about all the species of tree native to this region. If you think you’re seeing signs of a parasitic plant or you simply want to schedule a tree health evaluation, contact the office of Promier Tree by calling (423) 765-2626 or visit our website to schedule a consultation with one of our certified and experienced arborists.