The key difference between Holly and Mistletoe is that Holly is a genus of flowering plants while Mistletoe is a common name used to refer to most semi-parasitic plants that belong to the order Santalales.
Both holly and mistletoe are two types of plants. Holly plants could be evergreen trees, shrubs or climbers. In contrast, mistletoes are semi-parasitic plants that infest trees and shrubs through haustoria. The similarities between these two plants are fewer in number. Hence, this article focuses on the difference between Holly and Mistletoe.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Holly
3. What is Mistletoe
4. Similarities Between Holly and Mistletoe
5. Side by Side Comparison – Holly vs Mistletoe in Tabular Form
What is Holly?
Holly is a genus of flowering plants. It is the only living genus in the family Aquifoliaceae. About 480 species of plants are present in the genus. These species are either evergreen or deciduous trees, shrubs or climbers. They are present worldwide from tropics to temperate zones. Holly plant leaves are simple, alternate and glossy. They frequently possess a spiny leaf margin. The holly flower is greenish white. It is dioecious. Hence, male and female flowers are present on different plants.
Most holly species possess small fruits. They are commonly referred to as berries. These berries range in colour from red to black. In rare instances, they appear in yellow or green. Each fruit contains about 10 seeds. Fruits ripen in the winter season, giving a contrasting colour with bright red fruit and glossy green leaves. Therefore, they are used for Christmas decorations.
What is Mistletoe?
Mistletoe is a common name used for obligate hemiparasitic plants that belong to the order Santalales. These plant species grow on a wide range of host trees. Since mistletoes perform photosynthesis in minute extents, they are hemiparasitic. Mistletoes attach to the host plant through haustoria. Through haustoria, the semi parasites obtain nutrients and water from the host tree. Once infested with mistletoes, the host trees experience a reduction in growth, stunning and death eventually. Mistletoes do not produce any flowers or fruits.
Some species of mistletoes are toxic. But their toxicity is not lethal. The toxins synthesized by Mistletoes are Tyramine and Phoratoxin. If ingested these toxins, humans develop symptoms such as nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting and blurred vision.
What are the Similarities Between Holly and Mistletoe?
- Both Holly and mistletoe carry out photosynthesis in different extents.
- These plants produce seeds and propagate via seeds.
- Moreover, both holly and mistletoe plants produce toxins.
- And, the toxins produced by both plants cause common symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting.
What is the Difference Between Holly and Mistletoe?
Holly is a genus of flowering plants while mistletoe is a common name used for semi-parasitic plants. So, this is the key difference between Holly and Mistletoe. Unlike Mistletoe, Holly plants are non-parasitic. Hence, they do not possess structure such as haustoria. However, all Mistletoe plants have haustoria to absorb nutrients. Therefore, the presence and absence of haustoria is also a significant difference between Holly and Mistletoe.
Moreover, a further difference between Holly and Mistletoe is that the holly plants bear fruits and flowers, and their flowers and fruits appear in greenish and red to black, respectively. In contrast, mistletoes don’t have fruits or flowers. Additionally, mistletoe leaves are reduced and appear in pale yellow colour whilst leaves of holly plants are simple, alternate and glossy green in colour.
The following infographic presents more information regarding the difference between Holly and Mistletoe.
Summary – Holly vs Mistletoe
Holly is a genus of flowering plants that belong to the family Aquifoliaceae while Mistletoe is a common English name that refers to semi-parasitic plants belonging to the order Santalales. Thus, we can consider this as the key difference between Holly and Mistletoe. Moreover, though Holly plants bear fruits and flowers, Mistletoes do not. However, both plants bear seeds for germination. Also, both plants produce toxins with common effects such as diarrhoea and vomiting. Besides, Mistletoes possess haustoria for the absorption of water and nutrients from host trees. Due to the significant colour contrast between holly fruits and leaves, they are used as Christmas decorations. So, this summarizes the difference between Holly and Mistletoe.
1. “Holly.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 16 Apr. 2019, Available here.
2. “Mistletoe.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 22 Feb. 2019, Available here.
1. “1565485” (CC0) via Pxhere
2. “685881” (CC0) via Pixabay
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