Mistletoe has a special role, familiar to everyone, and can be the excuse for many a furtive kiss. Now that the leaves have fallen the mistletoe is especially noticeable.
It’s a parasitic evergreen shrub that grows in ball-shaped bunches high in the branches of old trees and extracts essential nutrients and water by sending roots into the bark. It does also possess chlorophyll, and hence is able to create its own food through photosynthesis. The most popular host is the apple tree, although it can also be found on lime, ash, hawthorn and other trees with soft bark. With the gradual decline of the apple industry in England, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find home-grown mistletoe. Most shop-brought mistletoe comes from Brittany or Normandy.
Druids believed that mistletoe growing on oak trees was the most sacred form of the plant and that it offered protection from all evil, as well as being the source of much magic. The early Christian church banned the use of mistletoe because of its association
The plant is associated with the mistle thrush which is supposed to love the sticky white berries. The bird spreads the plant from tree to tree by wiping the excess seeds and berries from its beak onto a twig of another tree Their droppings, which contain the seeds also land on a tree’s bark and germinate.