Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Christmas and mistletoes seem to go hand and hand, but did you know that Mistletoe is a parasite? Viscum album or European Mistletoe - the variety found in the Bluegrass - is a hemi-parasitic plant that grows attached to and within the branches of a tree or shrub. It is a poisonous plant that causes acute gastrointestinal problems including stomach pain, and diarrhea along with low pulse.

In the Bluegrass, now that most trees have shed their leaves, Mistletoe can be seen very easily growing high in treetops. Mistletoe grows on a wide range of host trees, which will stunt their growth and can even kill them with heavy infestation.

Mistletoe has sometimes been called the "vampire plant" because it can probe beneath the tree bark to drain water and minerals, enabling it to survive during a drought.

Mistletoe is commonly used as a Christmas decoration. An old Christian tradition said that mistletoe was once a tree and furnished the wood of the Cross. After the Crucifixion, the plant shriveled and became dwarfed to a parasitic vine. According to an old custom of Christmas, any male and female who meet under a hanging of mistletoe are supposed to kiss, hence the reason you see people standing under the Mistletoe.

Although there is no scientific data to support the use of Mistletoe extract as an anti-cancer agent, the extract has been used homeopathically for several centuries. In 2001 Mistletoe extract made headlines in the United States after actress Suzanne Somers used it instead of undergoing chemotherapy following her treatment for breast cancer using surgery.

Mistletoe is also the state flower of Oklahoma.


  1. mistletoe is a lot less common in the UK than it used to be

  2. I live in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky and our trees are full of it.