Fun Facts About The Mistletoe

By: Rosalie Laune

Mistletoe is a Christmas tradition in many cultures.  Most of us know about sneaking a kiss under the mistletoe, but how many of us know mistletoe is actually a parasite?

Here are five fun facts about mistletoe you can impress your friends with...or maybe not.

1. Mistletoe is a catchall term for the more than 1500 species of the plant  growing around the world, most in the tropics.

The mistletoe of American Christmas tradition is an entirely different species than that popular among Europeans.

2. Mistletoe is a hemi-parasitic evergreen plant. While it does contain some chlorophyll and can photosynthesize some of its own nutrients, mistletoe prefers to live off its host tree.

In America, mistletoe is considered an invasive species that eventually kills its host. European mistletoe merely weakens its host but does not kill it.

3. Mistletoe is the state flower of Oklahoma.

4. The origin of the word mistletoe seems to refer to the fact that mistletoe was observed as appearing on a tree wherever a thrush (mistel or missel) left its excrement on a branch or -toe.

Mistletoe spreads through birds eating and digesting the seeds, which are then deposited on a tree branch where roots soon begin to grow and burrow into the host.

5. The white berries of the American mistletoe are extremely poisonous to people and pets but not to birds. Many people know this, but many do not so it's worth repeating. Oddly enough, the berries of the European mistletoe are not poisonous at all.

Poinsettia (Euphorbia Pulcherrima)

Tips for keeping your poinsettia bright throughout the holiday season and possibly longer:

  • Limit exposure to the cold as you transport it to and from your car;
  • Inside your home, put the plant in a warm location with bright, indirect light;
  • Avoid placing it near heating vents or cold drafts;

Water when the top layer of soil feels slightly dry. Do not overwater and by no means let plants sit in saucers of water.

Poinsettias can be used as cut flowers if the stems are seared.
To lengthen the bloom life of the plant, chose one which has  some unopened bracts, the little yellow tips in the center of the blossom