Our native Mistletoe is one of 1,500 species worldwide.
Driving home from Hereford towards the West, at this time of year, as the Winter setting sun sinks below the distant hills of the Black Mountains, I am always thrilled to see, right on the outskirts of the town, a tall hedge of Poplar Trees, silhouetted against the sun, and each festooned with pompoms of Mistletoe. Continuing on with my journey, having crossing the River Wye, there on the left, is a beautiful old orchard, again all the Apple Trees are groaning under the weight of Mistletoe.
Mistletoe is a semi-parasitic plant and grows on host trees, not on all types of trees, but it particularly likes Apples and Poplars, although I have also seen it growing, high up, on Fir trees on the Greek Albanian border.
Mistletoe grows in trees because “something” puts it there, but what is that ‘something’? Often or not it is the Mistle Thrush, who loves Mistletoe berries, which it eats, and once these berries have passed through its gut, the Mistletoe seeds are deposited through its droppings onto the trees.
So it is not so much that the Mistletoe is favouring a certain type of tree – but that the ‘carrier’ chooses a particular tree as a source of food.
The magic of nature and the symbiotic relationship of the Mistletoe and the Mistle Thrush.
Why do we decorate our homes with sprigs of Mistletoe at Christmas? This tradition dates back to the ancient Druids, who believed that this plant brought good luck and protected against evil spirits. The custom of kissing under the Mistletoe originated in Norse mythology as Mistletoe was symbolic of love.