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Low Risk

Also known as:

American mistletoe eastern mistletoe false mistletoe hairy mistletoe mistletoe oak mistletoe phoradendron leucarpum phoradendron serotinum witches' broom

Mistletoe hanging on a door with a red ribbon.
Possible Symptoms
  • Minor skin irritation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
What to Do
  1. Wipe or rinse out mouth.
  2. Give a serving size of water to drink.
  3. Rinse any exposed skin with lukewarm water.
  4. Call 1-800-222-1222 for additional instructions.

Additional Information

Quick Facts about Mistletoe:

American mistletoe is of the Phoradendron genus and is less toxic than the European mistletoe or the Viscum album genus. The Phoradendron genus is the type that is commonly hung in doorways as a Christmas decoration and is also the state flower of Oklahoma. It is susceptible to cold temperatures, and as a result, this plant grows only in the southern half of the North American continent.

Where Does this Plant Grow?

Mistletoe is a parasitic shrub, meaning it grows on the trunks and branches of trees and has a specialized organ that penetrates the host. This way, mistletoe can obtain either all or part of its nutrition from the host. It grows in bunches, typically about three feet across. The leaves alternate and are green, round, and thick with smooth edges. There are small flowers which grow on small spikes and berries. Both the flowers and the berries are white, and the berries are covered in a sticky substance that makes them more enticing to birds. 

Is Mistletoe Poisonous?

The leaves, stems, and berries are potentially toxic if someone eats a significant amount. Typical exposures involve exploratory eating by curious children, where they swallow only a small or taste amount of the plant.

Possible symptoms with these small ingestions can be:

  • stomach upset
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

A person also needs to be careful handling the plant.  Skin exposure to the plant’s juice can result in redness, irritation, and itching. Whenever handling mistletoe, be sure to wash any skin exposed to the sticky juice well soon afterward.

What Happens if Someone Eats a Large Amount of the Mistletoe Plant?

If someone eats a large amount of mistletoe plant material, do not panic. Wipe out the mouth with a soft, wet cloth and give them some water to drink. If problems start or you have questions, call the Missouri Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center is open all day, every day, for poisoning emergencies and questions.

**Note: Don’t forget, every case is different. To make sure you are getting the best information for your individual situation, click below to call or chat. It is fast, free, and confidential.

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