“Mistletoe” rings a bell, especially during the Christmas Season. You have probably heard of “I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus, underneath the mistletoe last night.” So much about the mystery of kissing under the mistletoe have been heard, written, and read. History accounts the association of the mistletoe with Greek festivity and the belief that it has a life-giving power, in which it bestows fertility. It was also believed to be an aphrodisiac and a protection against poison. Whether the story of Santa Claus and the Mommy kissing or the life-giving power it has, mistletoe seems to be coupled in romance—all good and positive. But, are the truths about mistletoe seem what people think they are?
Amidst the magical stories we heard from European folklores and Christmas carol, there are trusts about mistletoe which, although some may have heard already, are still not believed by many because of its lovely façade. But, these truths are what make mistletoe interesting.
According to its botanical history, mistletoes are hemiparasite plants. They are natives of North America. The North American species of mistletoes are called Phoradendron flavescens, which are commonly harvested to serve as decorations for the Christmas Season. There is another type of mistletoe, called Viscum album, which is a native in Europe. The Viscum album is also used as Christmas ornaments because of its green shrub with scattered tiny yellow flowers and sticky poisonous white berries.
Mistletoes are beautiful, with evergreen leaves, perfect for the snowy environment, but growing mistletoe is a different story. Mistletoes are called hemiparasite simply because they are partial parasites. They grow on the trunk or branches of trees. But, they are pests for trees. Mistletoes grow through the nutrients they take from the host trees. Growing mistletoes branch out its roots that penetrate into the tree and then these roots take up the nutrients of the nutrients, slowly killing the trees. Even though mistletoes can reproduce on its own through photosynthesis, depending on trees is inevitable. The seeds of mistletoes are usually transferred to one tree and another by the birds that transport or eat the berries then deposit them onto another tree. The seeds germinate quickly and then the growing plant directly penetrates the tree.
You will observe that one leafless trees, there are abundant life-forms of bush-like plants. Those are the mistletoes right there. But, it is a misconception that the infected trees die instantly. No. It takes decades for the infected trees to die. But it is still recommended to plant young trees to preserve them.