3 comments on “Mistletoe – An Old Tradition and a Fascinating Plant

  1. Thank you for the article – It brings back some holiday memories! Back in the earlier part of the 20th century, and really through much of the 1970s, collecting and selling mistletoe was quite an industry here in Delaware. I remember you could buy a sprig at the local grocery stores and it was quite popular. Now you rarely find it in the stores, except I noted it recently at Trader Joe’s, and it is imported from the Pacific Northwest. I wonder if it was overharvesting that caused this, or perhaps just changes in Christmas traditions?

  2. Doesn’t mistletoe seriously harm the host tree. It is much more common than people think if you know what you are looking for. I have watched it spread throughout Caroline County, Maryland and into Kent and Sussex County. I have watched it kill trees after a certain point granted it takes years-but. No it isn’t over-harvested, I believe it loss in popularity is concern over toxicity.

  3. Gerry…
    You make some very good points. Mistletoe can kill branches of the trees it grows on and sometimes can contribute to the death of a tree. This seems to occur more often on trees that are otherwise stressed by flooding, soil compaction or disease. It is my opinion that in most cases the loss of a host tree is a natural part of the cycle of life in a woodlands. However, if a specimen tree is being harmed by an unusually large infestation I see nothing wrong with controlling the mistletoe. I agree with you that mistletoe is not overharvested today probably because of the lack of demand for the plant. In addition to the fact that the berries of mistletoe are poisonous to ingest the lack of demand for the plant at Christmas may also be a result of our society’s changing attitude towards the appropriateness of certain casual behaviors between men and women.
    Thanks you for your comments – Jim

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