Friday, January 29, 2016


I hadn't thought much about mistletoe until recently. A little artificial sprig is stored with our Christmas decorations and always gets hung over some doorway for the fun of it. But other than that, I hadn't given it much thought.

I am reminded, though, of several occasions when we lived in England and saw children (usually "travelers") selling it on street corners or the underground for extra cash. I had thought at the time how quaint that was for them to be growing mistletoe somewhere.

It wasn't until recently that I learned how mistletoe actually grows. I had assumed it was a type of bush or shrub - planted, watered, nurtured, pruned, etc. So when I found out that it grows as a parasite on other trees, I was shocked.

After a little research (i.e. google) I found that it only grows as a parasite on other trees. When one of the white sticky berries comes into contact with the bark of a tree (thanks to birds), it sends out a thread-like root which pierces the bark and firmly attaches itself. It is a true parasite in that it never gets nutrients from the soil, but only from the host tree.

Winter time is a good time to look for mistletoe. Since most trees have lost all their leaves, the circular pieces of evergreen are very noticeable. Most of the time it grows on a high branch and inaccessible. Once you start looking, you see it everywhere. I saw some growing on a low branch the other day and stopped to take some photos. Unfortunately, it is not edible.

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