We’ve noticed these balls of leaves in the trees since we moved to Switzerland. It’s all over the place here. Only after a year did I lean what they were… mistletoe! With Christmas fast approaching, I thought it was the perfect time to talk about these strange green balls.
The top ten things you may not have know Mistletoe (Phoradendron flavescens or Viscum album):
1. It is a parasitic plant whose roots invade a tree’s bark, allowing the mistletoe to absorb the tree’s nutrients. Sometimes, it harms a tree and causing deformities in the branches, but it’s not in the mistletoe’s interest to kill its host. If its tree dies, it dies.
2. Mistletoe isn’t a complete drain on the host tree (usually oak, apple, hawthorn, or poplar). Its small green leaves give the host plant with energy through photosynthesis.
3. Mistletoe is aggressive. A mistletoe plant to grow on top of another mistletoe plant. It’s also “aggressive” to your digestive system so don’t eat the berries…regardless of how many glasses of Egg Nog you’ve consumed.
4. Birds, however, eat Mistletoe’s berries and well, everybody poops. Eventually, they eventually leave their droppings where they hang out, on tree branches. Their droppings contain the seeds (which have a sticky coating), which sprout their roots into the tree branch.
5. Although it’s a European plant, birds travel. It grows down the eastern Atlantic coast of the United States, from New Jersey to Florida.
6. You can grow your own. Click on this link if you want to indulge your inner Martha Stewart.
7. Kissing. Smooching. Tonsil Hockey. Snogging. While it’s got as much credibility as an urban myth, why tempt fate? Legend has it that couples who kiss underneath the mistletoe will have good luck (for the traditionally minded marriage and a long, happy life together), but standing underneath it and not doing so is bad luck. In any case, it’s the perfect excuse for a little PDA…and to invite George Clooney to your holiday festivities.
8. Although American’s know Mistletoe from Christmas Carols, other cultures saw it as a much more powerful symbol. Ancient Druids used it for performing miracles (perhaps I should climb a tree and get myself some), providing fertility, to healing diseases and protecting people from witchcraft. Yep. I definitely need to get me some. especially since…
9. Britain’s Druids weren’t the only ones who were hip to its powers. Vikings believed mistletoe had the power to raise humans from the dead! When the Zombie apocalypse starts, you know the cause…
10. Oh yeah, and the Bieb’s like’s it so much that he sings about it. Here’s a link to Justin Bieber’s song Mistletoe on YouTube. Happy Holidays!
Justin Bieber at the 2010 White House Easter Egg roll. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)