Plant: aerial parasitic shrub; 2-25 cm high, glabrous, dioecious; SHOOTS: 10-30(-50) cm high, 3-10 mm wide at base, bright orange, reddish, dark brown or black, densely branched, usually erect Leaves: reduced to minute scales INFLORESCENCE: axillary spikes Flowers: decussate (sometimes whorled), short pedicellate; staminate flowers 3.5 mm long, to 3.5 mm in diameter; tepals 3(-4), with a central nectary, the perianth segments (2-)3-4(-5), each segment bearing a sessile, circular, uniloculate anther; pistillate flowers with a single style and rounded stigma, the perianth segments 2, persistent Fruit: 4-6 mm long, 2-3 mm wide, elliptic to obovate, bicolored, dehiscing explosively (to 15 m); pedicels curved at maturity; SEED without a thickened seed coat, eaten and distributed primarily by birds or dispersed explosively Notes: parasitic on Pinaceae REFERENCES: Hawksworth, Frank G. 1994. Viscaceae. J. Ariz. - Nev. Acad. Sci. Volume 27(2), 241-245.
JANAS 27(2), Kearney and Peebles 1969, McDougall 1973
Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Subshrub General: Aerial, parasitic shrub, dioecious perennials, without chlorophyll, to 25 cm high, stems glabrous, shoots 10-50 cm high and 3-10 mm wide at base, bright orange, reddish, dark brown or black, densely branched, usually erect, often in clusters on the host but sometimes scattered on the younger twigs. The pistillate plants are longer lived than the staminate ones and become larger with branches arising from superimposed buds in a fan-like arrangement. Leaves: Reduced to minute, connate scales. Flowers: Minute and inconspicuous, cream-colored, or the male flowers light green to yellow, arranged along the stem in pairs, with each pair at right angles to the pair above or below (decussate), sometimes whorled, short pedicellate, staminate flowers 3.5 mm long, to 3.5 mm in diameter, tepals 3-4, with a central nectary, the perianth segments 2-5, each segment bearing a sessile, circular, uniloculate anther, pistillate flowers with 2 teeth and a single style and rounded stigma, anthers 1-celled, infloresences borne in axillary spikes. Fruits: Oblong or obovate fruits, usually wider than long, greenish, bluish, or purplish, sometimes bicolored, 4-6 mm long, 2-3 mm wide, dehiscing explosively (to 15 m), borne on short, curving pedicels at maturity. Seeds without a thickened seed coat, eaten and Ecology: Parasitic primiarily on Pinaceae (Ponderosa pine), from 5,500-8,000 ft (1676-2438 m); flowering in spring and early summer. Distribution: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah; Mexico. Notes: Differentiate the genus Arceuthobium from Phoradendron by the fruits, which are borne on short, often curved pedicels, usually longer than wide and greenish, bluish, or purplish, the pistillate perianth with 2 teeth, and the 1-celled anthers in Arceuthobium. Phoradendron has sessile fruits, usually globose, white or reddish, the pistillate perianth usually with 3 teeth, and the anthers are 2-celled. Kearney and Peebles note that this species sometimes causes considerable damage in stands of young Ponderosa pine. They go on to say that in southern Arizona the species is usually in the typical phase on Pinus latifolia, P. chihuahuana, and P. ponderosa var. arizonica (P. arizonica), and in northern Arizona may be found in forma cryptopodum, often infesting P. ponderosa var. scopulorum in central and northern Arizona. Ethnobotany: Decoction of plant used as a ceremonial medicine. Synonyms: None Editor: LCrumbacher2012 Etymology: Arceuthobium comes from the Greek arkeuthos, "juniper," and bios, "life," presumably because of its resemblance to the juniper and not because it has juniper for a host, and vaginatum means sheathed, having a sheath.