Bumper Crop of Mistletoe in Britain

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DJ Droood
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Bumper Crop of Mistletoe in Britain

Post by DJ Droood » 17 Dec 2011, 01:41

There is no excuse not to kiss under the mistletoe this year. Britain has produced a bumper crop that is festooned with more pearly-white berries than ever. For more than a hundred years, an enormous auction – the only one of its kind – has been held in Tenbury Wells, on the borders of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire, our mistletoe-growing heartland. Apart from supermarket stocks, which tend to come direct from growers, the great bulk of British mistletoe is sold here.

At last week’s auction – held in a windswept field on the edge of the market town – there were Christmas trees, red-berried holly and locally made wreaths for sale, but it was the mistletoe, tied with twine in suitcase-sized bundles, in which the buyers, mostly garden- centre owners and wholesalers, were most interested.

Unlike American, Asian and Australian species, our mistletoe – the northern European white-berried Viscum album – is the stuff of legend. The ancients were fascinated by it, in particular by the way it seems to grow without roots, appearing as if by magic on trees. We now know that it is a hemiparasitic plant, gathering some of its nutrients from the host tree, but also photosynthesising to produce its own sugars.

For the Romans, mistletoe represented peace, love and understanding. The dark green leaves and white berries were also a Celtic fertility symbol.

In Britain’s mistletoe-growing regions, a branch would be brought inside at Christmas to protect the house. Any woman walking underneath could not refuse to be kissed, or she would remain an old maid. After a kiss, she would pick a berry from the branch. But kissing only became a national Christmas tradition in the 18th century, thanks to the Victorians’ obsession with Druids, driven by William Stukeley, the first archaeologist to complete a serious study of Stonehenge. And with the advent of Britain’s railways, it became possible to transport the fresh mistletoe efficiently around the country for the first time.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/chris ... stmas.html
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Re: Bumper Crop of Mistletoe in Britain

Post by truthseeker » 18 Dec 2011, 07:19

And to think I've been unable to get mistletoe or holly around here.... :shrug:
He would be a poet who could impress the winds and streams into his service, to speak for him - Henry David Thoreau

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Re: Bumper Crop of Mistletoe in Britain

Post by adiantum » 26 Mar 2015, 06:08

There is a native American mistletoe and holly, but both fairly far south, only up to maybe Virginia in the USA. So in Canada you're out of luck, unless you are in Vancouver. There are mistletoes in the milder parts of the West, some of which are important forest parasites, and the holly grows as a garden plant.
"But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task,…If anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I also am a steward. Did you not know?’--Tolkien

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Re: Bumper Crop of Mistletoe in Britain

Post by Green Raven » 26 Mar 2015, 12:28

It’s something I’ve noticed for the past few years. It really is everywhere at the moment – I can see three spherical clumps in the tops of trees right now from my office window.

I think that it’s been a side effect of the repopulation of Britain’s birds since the introduction of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) (enforced legal protection of wildlife) plus the milder weather indicative of global warming. Took a few years to kick in properly but the whole ecology of the countryside and towns is re-establishing – and leading to the spread of the sticky mistletoe berries on birds’ beaks. Unfortunately, overpopulation is leading to property developers, and their mates in the local authorities, tightening the screws again. It is being stated in their circles that if the present government (big business, landowners and other major asset holders) get back in with a clear majority, they will be gunning for the Wildlife and Countryside Act, the Hunting Act (2004) (abolition of hunting animals with hounds) and the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000) (‘right to roam’) :-( .
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