Colorado is full of fantastically beautiful landscapes and, as you may already know, trees. 

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Denver is a great place to start, with its cherry trees that dot the Town Center Park at Green Valley Ranch. 

However, you’re also going to find some oddities out here too, like the panty tree out in Aspen. 

We’ve also got our fair share of poisonous plants and trees, but there’s nothing like one parasitic plant that grows in trees right here in Colorado. Plus, you definitely already know it, but didn’t know it was a parasite. 

Mistletoe is One of Colorado’s Most Parasitic Plants

YouTube // UWyoExtension
YouTube // UWyoExtension
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That’s right, the plant that’s commonly associated with Christmas kisses is actually quite the common parasite amongst Colorado’s conifers. 

According to Colorado State University, dwarf mistletoes in particular are a major problem for many trees in Colorado, especially ponderosa, lodgepole, limber, and pinyon pines along with Douglas-firs.

If you’re looking to identify a dwarf mistletoe plant, take a look up at the trees; if you see a strange density of leaves that can take on yellow or green hue, the tree has been infected. 

What Effects Do Dwarf Mistletoe Plants Have on Trees? 

To be blunt, dwarf mistletoe plants are extremely detrimental to the health of the aforementioned trees in Colorado. 

They reach unaffected, still healthy parts of the tree and extract all nutrients from them. 

This means many trees infected by dwarf mistletoe plants will die starting from the top and going down.

Even worse, dwarf mistletoes are spread from tree to tree, with the seeds sticking to the surface of the tree. 

A couple of ways ecologists deal with dwarf mistletoes is by saving lightly or moderately infected trees through pruning them of leaves along with the parasitic plant. Heavily affected trees are usually beyond saving. 

They can also add chemical sprays to reduce the spread of mistletoes. 

Finally, if they need to remove a mistletoe infested tree, they usually plant another tree in its place to make sure there are still trees in place. 

Prohibited Plants in Colorado

Heads up, green thumbs!

Gallery Credit: Kelsey Nistel

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Gallery Credit: Nate Wilde