Defending Christmas: Dwarf Mistletoe Joins War on Christmas, Attacks Christmas Trees

Some of my Sciblings are reporting on their role in the “War on Christmas”. I think this is heinous. So I am reposting this piece I wrote last year detailing my plans to defend Christmas by burning Christmas trees…

“It’s ironic that the plant associated with love and well-being at Christmas can be the kiss of death for the trees we’ve come to associate with the same holiday,” said one individual at hearing the news.
It was recently revealed that dwarf mistletoe has been routinely attacking christmas trees for years. A picture of the christmas hating plants in action is below.
Even more disturbing:

Dwarf mistletoe (dmt), an evergreen parasitic plant found on conifers in Canada, can significantly reduce a tree’s life expectancy. Even more important in beetle-infested British Columbia, the almost-invisible dwarf mistletoe species that prefers pines can weaken a tree and make it more susceptible to attack by micro-organisms and insects.

In other words, they are in Canada, heading towards the North Pole and Santa Clause. One source indicates the christmas hating mistletoe has opened a fifth column here in the United States. A map of known mistletoe terrorist cells is below.
Terrorist christmas hating misletoe in the US are particularly virulent (goes without saying since we are the greatist nation on earth our terrorist christmas hating misletoe has to be of the worst sort):

Because of its widespread occurrence on limber and whitebark pines, and the high level of mortality it causes, limber pine dwarf mistletoe is considered to be one of the most important diseases of high-elevation 5-needle pines in the West. Only white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola Fisch.) is considered more damaging.

From another source:

“Dwarf mistletoe is a serious forest pest,” says Ross. “Its effects can change habitat, compromise timber quality, create a fire hazard due to dead trees, and weaken a tree to the extent that it dies from other factors.”

afarensis was so alarmed at the thought that he might be harboring christmas hating terrorist mistletoe that he took his christmas tree outside and burned it. He was much embarassed, however, when Mrs. afarensis pointed out that we had a fake tree…dwelling on the failures in the war on Christmas only aides and abets the enemy so let’s move on…
Apparently, these evil christmas hating mistletoe have come up with a clever and heinous method of attack:

While they may have different appetites, all of the dmt species spread their seeds through explosion, an unusual method of propagation unrivalled by any other member of the plant kingdom.


Essentially, the process works like this: water initially accumulates in the viscin mucilage, creating a steady rise in pressure, then changes in cell chemistry instigate a major influx of water into the mucilage, triggering a rapid increase in pressure. A resistant cell layer makes sure the fruit doesn’t expand in all directions, but rather accumulates pressure in the viscin, so when the cell layer where the fruit joins the stalk dies, pressure is suddenly released, bursting the fruit and dispersing the seed.
“The outer fruit shell is elastic but resistant to pressure build-up, like the skin of a balloon, and the dying cell layer that forms at the fruit stalk mimics the result of putting a pin in the balloon,” says Ross.
It’s a deadly discharge that plays a mean prank on neighbouring trees, and it’s particularly threatening in single-species stands like lodgepole pine plantations.

Shocking! I can fondly remember, from years past, kissing Mrs. afarensis under the mistletoe. Little did I know the evil nature of the christmas hating terrorist mistletoe that was hanging above our heads. So the next time someone stands under mistletoe and wants a smooch politely explain how mistletoe is a heinous member of war on Christmas then take the mistletoe outside and burn it (children should ask their parents to do this or at least be supervised by a responsible adult). They will thank you for it, our country will thank you and I will thank you.

2 Responses

  1. Mistletoe from Canada – well, what do you expect, eh? That bunch of liberal secular pot-head snowboarders…
    Boy that brings back memories. When I was an undergrad, I had a job with the Federal Forest research Lab, part of which included documenting dwarf mistletoe infestations in various areas in BC. Little did I know that I was at the vanguard of the War on Christmas ™, Biological Warfare Division!

  2. I don’t know if I should be pedantic enough to point out that the familiar Christmas mistletoe (Viscum album), with its green leaves and white berries, is a different genus than — though same family as — the dwarf mistletoes (Arceuthobium spp.). The latter grow invisibly inside their host tree except when their small brown flowers emerge from the surface. Not much good as a decoration.

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