Towards best-practice management of mistletoes in horticulture

David M. Watson, Melinda Cook, Rodrigo F. Fadini

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Mistletoe is increasingly being reported as a horticultural pest, infecting many species grown commercially for fruit, nuts, and other food products. Unlike mistletoe impacts on forestry, the published research on mistletoe in horticulture is scant, with management guidelines reliant on anecdotes, un-replicated trials on unrelated species, and often in different countries and growing systems. We have integrated the existing work to summarize information on the most effective control strategies for mistletoe in horticulture, and call attention to the paucity of empirical research. Despite grower interest in growth regulators and herbicides, limited trials suggest chemical treatment of mistletoe is ineffective, consistent with findings from forestry and ornamental trees. Although labour-intensive, ongoing mechanical removal is the most effective strategy to minimize mistletoe impacts but, without information available on effects of mistletoe infection on yield or tree mortality, cost-effectiveness calculations are not possible. Given the range of herbivores that consume mistletoe tissues, biological control may be useful, both to prevent initial infection and also reduce impacts on infected hosts in commercial plantations. To catalyse more research on mistletoes in horticulture, we articulate six priorities for further work, emphasizing the utility of tree crops as model systems to address questions regarding mistletoe ecology and host-parasite dynamics more broadly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-498
Number of pages10
Issue number9
Early online date10 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


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