Plant Profile – Mistletoe
- by Bobbi Grimm
Dec 01, 2018
Just what is Mistletoe and why do we kiss when we’re under it?
Botanically, Mistletoe is considered a hemiparasite. That means it’s partly parasitic. While it grows on the branches and trunks of a tree, it also sends out roots into the ground to take up its own nutrients. It’s also capable of growing on its own, but is mostly found in the wild as a parasite.
Kissing under the mistletoe is first found associated with the Greek festival of Saturnalia and later with primitive marriage rites. One belief was that it had power to bestow fertility. In Scandinavia, mistletoe was considered a plant of peace, under which enemies could declare a truce or warring spouses kiss and make-up. These are just two of the stories that I found while researching the custom of kissing under the mistletoe.
In any event, don’t eat it. The berries contain toxic compounds poisonous to many animals and to humans.