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7.02.11 - Parasitic flowering plants in forests



Hot off the press: Special Issue of Botany

Special Issue of "Botany" from Session D7d "Complex Interactions of Mistletoe, Ecosystems, and People";
XXV IUFRO World Congress; Curitiba, 29 September - 5 October 2019.
Botany, 2020, 98(9).

This special issue of Botany is a result of a Technical Session entitled "Complex interactions of mistletoe, ecosystems, and people", which was held during the 2019 World Congress of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO). The session was organized by the IUFRO Working Party 7.02.11, which is devoted to the study of parasitic flowering plants in forests. The goal of the session was to discuss the complex and important role of mistletoe in forests and woodlands worldwide, as well as the relevance of these plants to people. Current research on mistletoe is expanding, with more emphasis on tropical forests, where the diversity of mistletoe is highest. Mistletoe plays important roles in human systems. On the one hand, mistletoes can be pests in orchards, woodlots, and forestry lands, but on the other hand, these plants are also beneficial to forest biodiversity, multiple ecosystem functions, and may also have an indirect positive effect upon the trees and shrubs that serve as host plants. In addition, mistletoes can be harvested for other non-timber resources, such as sources for medicinal products, animal fodder, and various commercial products. The six papers in this issue capture the complex roles of mistletoe in ecosystems and managed landscapes in both tropical and temperate regions of the planet.

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David Shaw, United States


Luiza Teixeira-Costa, United States

David Watson, Australia

About Unit

The objectives of this unit are focused on the biology, systematics, utilization for medicinal purposes, and pathology of the parasitic flowering plants in the forests. The Working Party will utilize the classical and the new biotechnology tools and advances to accelerate our understanding on the role, utilization, and the impact of the parastic flowering plants in the forests. Forest Biologists, Pathologists, and others interested in this field are invited to participate in the Unit's activities by contacting the Working Party Coordinator via the above address information.

State of Knowledge

There are many parasitic flowering plants throughout the globe, and these have recently been reviewed in the excellent text, "Parasitic Flowering Plants", by Henning S. Heide-Jorgensen (2008, Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands. ).  An excellent website, "The Parasitic Plant Connection" is maintained by Dan Nickrent from the Department of Plant Biology at Southern Illinois University (   The International Parasitic Plant Society is the premier international society that coordinates scientific knowledge exchange (

Although parasitic plants occur in the understory of native forests, the most important parasitic plants that effect tree health are the mistletoes (Mathiasen et al. 2008).  Depending on your taxonomic perspective, the mistletoes are all in the Santales and occur in five families; Loranthaceae, Viscaceae, Misodendraceae, Eremolepidaceae, and Santalaceae.  The Loranthaceae and Viscaceae are the most economically damaging families, and affect tree plantations, orchards, and gardens throughout the globe, but particularly in the tropics, although the dwarf mistletoes (Arceuthobium spp., Viscaceae) are important conifer pests in western North America.  Management of economically important mistletoes is complex (Shaw and Mathiansen 2013), but has recently shifted with the understanding that mistletoes are native plants linked to biodiversity and ecosystem function (Watson and Herring 2012).

There is a significant literature on mistletoes, while regional floras allow identification.  The IUFRO Working Party 7.02.11 is working to continue knowledge exchange on this important group of parasites that are managed for both conservation and economic impacts.