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Data from: Effects of mistletoe (Phoradendron villosum) on California oaks

Cite this dataset

Koenig, Walter D. et al. (2018). Data from: Effects of mistletoe (Phoradendron villosum) on California oaks [Dataset]. Dryad.


Mistletoes are a widespread group of plants often considered to be hemiparasitic, having detrimental effects on growth and survival of their hosts. We studied the effects of the Pacific mistletoe Phoradendron villosum, a member of a largely autotrophic genus, on three species of deciduous California oaks. We found no effects of mistletoe presence on radial growth or survivorship and detected a significant positive relationship between mistletoe and acorn production. This latter result is potentially explained by the tendency of Phoradendron villosum to be present on larger trees growing in nitrogen-rich soils or, alternatively, by a preference for healthy, acorn-producing trees by birds that potentially disperse mistletoe. Our results indicate that the negative consequences of Phoradendron presence on their hosts are negligible—this species resembles an epiphyte more than a parasite—and outweighed by the important ecosystem services mistletoe provides.

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National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1256394