Saturday, 20 December 2014

Christmas Mistletoe

Mistletoe has been used for many different reasons over the centuries, from making magic potions to decorating the house at Christmas. Its history stretches back into the mists of time and many legends have grown up about it. Being a parasite, it must have puzzled our ancestors because it grew out of the branches of other trees and had no roots like any proper plant and could not grow in soil. It is also an evergreen, so when the leaves fall from its host plant, the mistletoe remains green throughout winter. These two features imbued it with mystic properties, the least of which is that you can steal kiss whilst under its branches at Christmas.

Essential for magic potions

Kisses must be plentiful around the county of Gloucestershire because that county has an abundance of the plant and you will find entire stands of trees filled with more mistletoe leaves than their own native leaves. It seems to thrive in this area more than any other part of Great Britain that I have visited. 

Almost any winter skyline around Gloucestershire contains trees covered in mistletoe
It will often cluster around certain areas, but it is surprisingly widespread around Gloucestershire.  Some streets in Cheltenham are lined with trees so full of mistletoe that they act like evergreens and still appear to be in full leaf  all winter.  In some rural places there are tree after tree filled with the characteristic spherical bunches of mistletoe.
Despite the sheer abundance of that part of the world, it is still sold in the local shops at high prices, when someone armed with long pruning shears, taking a short walk in the local wood,s would get them more than they could carry. I am not sure what the legal aspect of picking mistletoe is, most wild plants are protected in the UK and you are not allowed to pick them but mistletoe is hardly an endangered species. At leat not in Gloucestershire.

This is my Christmas post and so I wish all my blog followers a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.


  1. Gloucestershire has so much mistletoe because of the apple trees, I think.

    A very Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  2. Happy Christmas, snafu! Don't stand under the mistletoe...unless you really want to, of course!