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Phoradendron leucarpum (Raf.) Reveal
Mistletoe, Oak mistletoe
South Florida Status: Critically imperiled. Three occurrences in four conservation areas (Big Cypress National Preserve; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary & Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed; Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve).
Taxonomy: Dicotyledon; Viscaceae.
Habit: Perennial parasitic herb.
Distribution: Native to North America, including Mexico. Wunderlin (1998) reports it as frequent nearly throughout Florida.
South Florida Distribution: Collier, Lee, and Hendry counties.
South Florida Habitats: Cypress swamps.
Protection Status: Not listed by any agency.
Aids to Identification: Bell & Taylor (1982) has a color photo; Nelson (1996) has an illustration; the IRC Website has a color photo.
References: Chapman, 1883; Small, 1933a; Long & Lakela, 1976; Bell & Taylor, 1982; Nelson, 1996; Wunderlin, 1998.
Synonyms: P. eatonii Trel.; P. flavescens (Pursh) Nutt., misapplied; P. macrotomum Trel.; P. serotinum (Raf.) M.C. Johnst.; P. serotinum var. macrotomum (Trel.) M.C. Johnst.
Historical Context: Alvah A. Eaton first collected oak mistletoe in 1905 at “Deep Lake” (1310, NY, MO). This station may refer to Big Cypress National Preserve or, more likely, the Fakahatchee Strand. George N. Avery and others observed oak mistletoe in the Fakahatchee Strand in 1965 (Avery’s Notes, 6 June 1965), in what is now Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. Only one plant was found, so this occurrence is treated as historical.
Oak mistletoe also has been collected in the northeastern corner of Big Cypress National Preserve. William Rabenau discovered plants in the Rabenau Camp area, and showed these plants to Chuck McCartney in 1979. Bradley vouchered this station in 1998 (1636, FTG). An additional collection is known from a privately owned site in Collier County. Daniel B. Ward and others collected it about 10 miles southeast of Immokalee in 1965 (5270, USF). Oak mistletoe has been reported for Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (Judd, 1994) and Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (Hilsenbeck, 1997), both of which are located in the vicinity of Immokalee. These occurrences are assumed to be extant, but need to be vouchered.
In 1916, Paul C. Standley made the first collection outside of Collier County in the Fort Myers area (12631, US). G.M. Lummis also collected oak mistletoe in Fort Myers in 1921 (s.n., US). In 1997, Bradley and Woodmansee vouchered plants at the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve near Fort Myers (168, FTG). The authors observed a few hundred plants in the strand swamp. Oak mistletoe also was collected in Hendry County by Richard P. Wunderlin and others in 1980, about 15.5 miles east of Immokalee (8855, USF).
Major Threats: Exotic pest plant invasions.
Comments: This is a temperate species at the southern end of its range, and it always may have been uncommon in South Florida. The specimen collected by Eaton at Deep Lake was described as a new species by Trelease, P. eatonii.
Recommendations: • Voucher plants at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed. • Survey Ward and Wunderlin stations in Collier and Hendry counties, and Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. • Map and monitor known stations on a regular basis.
Gann, G.D., K.A. Bradley and S.W. Woodmansee. 2001-2013.