ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – ‘Tis the time of year for spreading cheer and decking the halls, which often involves mistletoe but did you know this festive plant is really a parasite that could be damaging your trees?

Texas A&M Forest Service officials say mistletoe is really a parasitic plant that attaches itself to more than 30 tree species in North America and 1,300 worldwide.

“Mistletoe attaches itself to the tree by a sticky seed carried by a bird or mammal to the new host, but it does not derive all of its food from the host tree,” a press release explains.

It doesn’t completely kill the tree, but it does steal important water and nutrients using a root system that can even tap into the tree’s photosynthetic process.

In Texas, the most common affected tree species are oak, sugarberry, elm, pine, and more.

Experts advise pruning to get mistletoe under control. Click here to read more about mistletoe and the pruning process.