You are here

Dwarf mistletoes: Biology, pathology, and systematics

Posted date: August 01, 2018
Publication Year: 
Authors: Hawksworth, Frank G.; Wiens, Delbert
Publication Series: 
Agricultural Handbook
Source: Agricultural Handbook 709. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service. 410 p.


Arceuthobium (dwarf mistletoes), a well defined but morphologically reduced genus of the family Viscaceae, is parasitic on Pinaceae in the Old and New Worlds and on Cupressaceae in the Old World. Although conifer forests in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere are infested with dwarf mistletoes, those most commonly infested are in western North America and Mexico. In North America, Arceuthobium ranges from central Canada and southeastern Alaska to Honduras. Only A. pusillum occurs in eastern North America, and only A. juniperi-procerae is found in the Southern Hemisphere. Arceuthobium bicarinatum and A. azoricum are restricted to islands (Hispaniola and the Azores, respectively).

In this taxonomic revision, the 46 recognized taxa comprise 42 species - 4 with 2 subspecies each, and 1 with 2 formae speciales. Eight species are known in the Old World and thirty-four species occur in the New. Natural hybridization and polyploidy are unknown and have resulted in a relatively clear, dendritic line of evolution. The genus is probably of early Tertiary origin and its closest relative is the genus Notothixos, which has tropical Asian and Australasian distribution. Arceuthobium presumably migrated to the New World before the Miocene Epoch. Intensive adaptive radiation occurred into the Pinacea. Some of the species of Abies, Picea, Tsuga, Larix, and Pseudotsuga and 95% of the species of Pinus are parasitized.

Individual chapters from this publications

Also available in HTML format:


Hawksworth, Frank G.; Wiens, Delbert. 1996. Dwarf mistletoes: Biology, pathology, and systematics. Agricultural Handbook 709. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service. 410 p.