It’s hunting season, but I’m not hunting deer. It’s time to take that trusty shotgun and hunt some mistletoe. This is the perfect time to hunt mistletoe; one: because there is no use for it any other time of the year and two: it’s easy to see, now that all the leaves are down.
The Greek word for mistletoe is Phoradendron, which means “thief of the tree”. While not a true parasite, mistletoe sure acts as one, sinking its roots into the tree and leeching nutrients from the tree to help with its photosynthesis. Found high in the branches of trees, the seed is extremely sticky, latching onto bird’s beaks or feathers or the fur of other woodland creatures and dropping off to start a new batch on a new host. Mistletoe is toxic to people, but birds rely on the berries for high-protein food and the foliage for nesting material. Butterflies lay their eggs on the plants and use the nectar for food. Mistletoe is also an important nectar and pollen food for bees. Throughout the ages, mistletoe has been used to treat an array of ailments, from leprosy, worms and labor pains to high blood pressure.
All interesting facts, but why do we kiss under a parasitical-like plant? According to Norse mythology, Balder, loved by gods and men, was felled by an arrow made of mistletoe, the only material that could hurt him. He was revived by his mother, Frigg, and she commanded anyone who stood under the plant to kiss as a reminder of how love conquered death.
So if you do decide to go on a mistletoe hunt, and even though a shotgun has a cool, woodsy image to it, take a 22 if you want any mistletoe to bring home.
Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas.