Mistletoe: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Mistletoe.

  • Although mistletoe can grow on its own, it is also known as a partial parasite. It grows on tree trunks and branches and uses the tree’s nutrients.
  • There are actually about 1,300 species of mistletoe found around the world, including two that are native to America. About 20 of these species are endangered.

  • The word mistletoe probably comes from the Anglo-Saxon words for ‘dung’ and ‘twig’. The plant was so called because the seeds were often spread through bird droppings.
  • Kissing under the mistletoe first originated in Ancient Greece and the custom was later used in marriage ceremonies. The mistletoe was believed to bring fertility.
  • Kissing under the mistletoe was also popular in 16th century England. It is commonly used as a Christmas decoration, and some customs say that it should not touch the ground between being cut down and thrown out.
  • Some people claim that mistletoe can treat cancer. The plant is also widely used in Germany and other parts of Europe to treat various conditions, including respiratory problems and circulation problems.
  • The American actress Suzanne Somers made headlines when she treated her breast cancer with medicine made from mistletoe. However, the drug is not officially recognized as being able to fight cancer.
  • The plant appears in lots of folk remedies, and in some countries it was hung over the door of the home to keep demons away.
  • When Christianity began to spread across the world, a rumour develped that suggested the cross upon which Jesus died was made from mistletoe. The plant was punished by being made a parasite and forbidden to grow in the ground.
  • Many animals eat mistletoe and get their protein from it. Birds also use it for food or nesting material and butterflies lay their eggs on the plants.

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