Plant: aerial, parasitic shrub; woody; SHOOTS 2-4 dm high, greenish, glabrous, the internodes 6-10 mm long Leaves: reduced to minute scales INFLORESCENCE: staminate spikes with usually 1 fertile segment, ca. 6 flowers per segment; pistillate spikes with 1 fertile segment, with 2 flowers Flowers: glabrous, sunken along the axis; perianth segments usually 3, persistent in fruit; staminate flower with a sessile minute (less than 2 mm), 2-chambered anther; pistillate flower with a single style and rounded stigma Fruit: white-pinkish, glabrous, ca. 4 mm in diameter Misc: Pinyon -juniper woodlands:; 1000-2300 m (3200-7500 ft); Jun-Jul Notes: HOSTS: Juniperus, rarely on Cupressus and very rarely on Chamabaetiaria REFERENCES: Hawksworth, Frank G. 1994. Viscaceae. J. Ariz. - Nev. Acad. Sci. Volume 27(2), 241-245.
Hawksworth and Wiens 1993 (VPAP), Kearney and Peebles 1969, Heil et al. 2013, Carter 2012
Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Subshrub General: Perennial, aerial parasitic subshrub; stems 20-40 cm long, brittle, dichotomously branching and disarticulating at nodes, green, olive, or yellow-green, glabrous and somewhat shiny. Primarily parasitizes Juniperus spp. Leaves: Reduced to minute scales; opposite along the stems, with the pairs strongly connate (fused to each other around the stem). Flowers: Tiny and inconspicuous, in leaf axils; male and female flowers on separate individuals (dioeceous); male flowers in an axillary spike of 4-10 flowers and female flowers in an axillary spike of 2 flowers; tepals usually 3 per flower, 1 mm long, pale yellow to green, persistent in fruit. Fruits: Spherical mucilaginous berry, 4 mm wide, white to pinkish and glabrous, on a recurved pedicel and capped by 3 tiny persistent erect tepals; containing 1 seed. Ecology: Found on Juniperus osteopserma, J. monosperma and J. scopulorum; rarely on Cupressus arizonica and Pinus edulis and very rarely on Chamabaetiaria, from 3,000-7,500 ft (914-2286 m); flowers June-July. Distribution: AZ, NM, CO, CA, UT, TX, and OR; south to nw MEX. Notes: This is the mistletoe that grows in Juniper trees. It is otherwise distinguished by its lack of well-developed leaves (it has tiny scales at the stem nodes instead of leaves) and its white to light pink berries. P. californicum has a similar appearance but that species parasitizes leguminous shrubs in the low desert, such as mesquite and palo verde trees, and has red berries. In older texts, look for this taxon in Viscaceae (the mistletoe family); based on molecular evidence, that family has been subsumed into the sandalwood family (Santalaceae). Ethnobotany: Used to make a tea to treat stomach problems; the berries were used as a famine food; the branches were used to make a textile dye; also used ceremonially. Etymology: Phoradendron is from Greek phor, thief and dendron, tree, because of its parasitism; juniperinum alludes to the species' preference for parasitizing juniper trees. Synonyms: Phoradendron juniperinum var. ligatum, P. ligatum Editor: SBuckley 2010, AHazelton 2017