American mistletoe (Common name)

General poisoning notes:

American mistletoe (Phoradendron flavescens) is the familiar mistletoe of Christmas. Ingesting a large number of the berries or tea made from the berries has led to poisoning and death in humans. Mistletoe, used as decorations at Christmas, should be kept out of the reach of children and family pets (Kingsbury 1964, Fuller and McClintock 1986).

References:

  • Fuller, T. C., McClintock, E. 1986. Poisonous plants of California. Univ. California Press, Berkeley, Calif., USA. 432 pp.
  • Kingsbury, J. M. 1964. Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. 626 pp.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Phoradendron flavescens (Pursh) Nutt.
Vernacular name(s):
American mistletoe
Scientific family name:
Loranthaceae
Vernacular family name:
mistletoe

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Phoradendron flavescens

References:

  • Agriculture Quebec. 1975. Noms des maladies des plantes du Canada/ Names of plant diseases in Canada. , Quebec City, Que., Canada. 288 pp.
  • Alex, J. F., Cayouette, R., Mulligan, G. A. 1980. Common and botanical names of weeds in Canada/Noms populaire et scientifiques des plantes nuisibles du Canada. Revised. Agric. Can. Publ., Ottawa, Ont., Canada. 132 pp.
  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Scoggan, H. J. 1978, 1979. The flora of Canada. Nat. Mus. Nat. Sci. (Ottawa) Publ. Bot. 7(1)-7(4). 1711 pp.
  • Van Wijk, H. L. 1911. A dictionary of plant names. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, The Netherlands. 1444 pp.
  • Victorin, M. 1964. Flore Laurentienne. 2nd ed. Univ. Montreal, Montreal, Que., Canada. 952 pp.

Geographic Information

Plant or plant parts used in or around the home.

References:

  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Boivin, B. 1966, 1967. Énumération des plantes du Canada. Provencheria 6. Nat. Can. (Que.) 93: 253-274; 371-437; 583-646; 989-1063. 94: 131-157; 471-528; 625-655.

Image or illustration

Images: American mistletoe - Google Search

Toxic parts:

  • all parts
  • leaves
  • mature fruit

References:

  • Fuller, T. C., McClintock, E. 1986. Poisonous plants of California. Univ. California Press, Berkeley, Calif., USA. 432 pp.

Notes on Toxic plant chemicals:

American mistletoe contains two amines, beta-phenylethylamine and tyramine, as well as a lectin, phoratoxin. These chemicals are probably responsible for toxic reactions after ingestion (Fuller and McClintock 1986).

Toxic plant chemicals:

  • beta-phenylethylamine
  • phoratoxin
  • tryamine

References:

  • Fuller, T. C., McClintock, E. 1986. Poisonous plants of California. Univ. California Press, Berkeley, Calif., USA. 432 pp.

Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.

Humans

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

Ingesting a few berries causes abdominal pain and diarrhea. Tea made from the berries caused death about 10 h after symptoms of acute gastroenteritis, followed by cardiovascular collapse. Plant material has slowed the heartbeat in a way similar to digitalis (Kingsbury 1964, Fuller and McClintock 1986).

References:

  • Fuller, T. C., McClintock, E. 1986. Poisonous plants of California. Univ. California Press, Berkeley, Calif., USA. 432 pp.
  • Kingsbury, J. M. 1964. Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. 626 pp.

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