Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Mistletoe

I normally just post about nature in my backyard, along the path that runs behind my house, or the local forest preserve. But, this week I'm going to mix it up a bit. Nature comes into our homes and adds to our festive feelings. Evergreen trees are donned with lights and treasures, and placed in prominent places, boughs decorated with berries and bows are hung on mantles, and railings. And above doors, mistletoe may be hung, encouraging a kiss or two.
Mistletoe...just what the heck is it?!? How come we don't see it for sale in pots at the garden center? Where does it come from? Why do we kiss under it?
Mistletoe is as epiphyte (needs physical support: tree branch, building), and a hemiparasite (partially depends on a host for nourishment: water, sap). But, it is also capable of photosynthesis. 
Tying in with my earlier seed dispersal topic, mistletoe has a sticky berry with a seed inside. Birds eat the berry, but might not eat the seed. It gets stuck on their beak, and when the bird wipes it off onto a branch, it plants the seed there. The seed may also pass through them 😉
The mistletoe we buy at the store has been 'color enhanced' = spray painted.
Different types of mistletoe can be found throughout the world.
Traditionally, mistletoe with berries attached would be hung from the ceiling. When a kiss was granted, a berry would be picked. When the berries were all picked, the kissing was done. The tradition was that a man could kiss any woman that stepped under the mistletoe, and that bad luck would come to a woman if she refused.
Remember to 'like' and 'share' the love of nature!


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