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I have moved to Mobile Alabama and bought a home. In the yard are three pecan trees and a pear tree. All three of the pecans and also the pear have some sort of vine growing on them. It looks like ferns growing along the branches. In the winter, the area where the growth is turns dark. It seems to have pretty much killed one older pecan and working on the two younger trees. The pear is lightly infested. Up in the tree, it grows independent of ground roots which I cut when I find them. Does anyone have an idea of what this might be?

Thank you all for the feedback. It definitely is not mistletoe. I recognize that from when I was a child and we used to go out in the woods for it at Christmas time. I am going to check out the climbing ferns. Also wanted to say we had the most damaged pecan tree cut down as it was very old anyway. The inside of the trunk was not as damaged as I expected it to be which gives me hope that this is some kind of harmless, fern looking vine. Thanks again.

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I don't think this sounds like mistletoe. Do you have a photo, ideally close up? mistletoe leaves are in pairs, white berries, and forms round evergreen clumps as per jmusser's photo –  winwaed Mar 16 '12 at 12:38
If you have a photograph, please add it to the question to help people identify it. If you have a positive ID, please add it as an answer. –  Niall C. Oct 11 '13 at 11:10
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2 Answers

That would be mistletoe, a tree parasite. This is a vining shrub that puts its roots directly into the tree, sapping the energy that the tree draws from the ground. Cutting the plants off at the base every time they start to regrow kills them fairly quickly. You may want hire a arborist.enter image description here enter image description here

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If it is mistletoe, then the trees can't be cured/saved. It puts plant tissue into the tree's trunk which cannot be removed. It can only be cured by removing an infected branch very early on. Eg. That photo you've posted is too 'far gone' as it were. –  winwaed Mar 16 '12 at 3:03
If it is the mistletoe I wonder what the 'ground roots', which the question author cuts, are. Mistletoe does not have ground roots AFAIK. –  Jacek Konieczny Mar 16 '12 at 9:06
It isn't mistletoe if it turns brown in the winter. Mistletoe is evergreen, hence it use a Christmas symbol. Also, I don't think Mistletoe ever has ground roots. It's a true parasite which is fairly rare in the plant world. We used to harvest it for the Christmas trade when I was a kid. –  TechZen Mar 19 '12 at 3:05
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If it looks like a fern, then it is probably a variant of the so-called "climbing ferns" which aren't really ferns but just have fern like leaves. Most are harmless but there is a Japanese climbing fern which is considered a dangerous invasive species.

You might check some google images of climbing ferns to see if you can spot the culprit.

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