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Mistletoe (Viscum album) is an evergreen plant that is smothered in white berries from winter to spring. It grows in the branches of trees, such as hawthorn, apple, poplar, lime and conifers.
Mistletoe in flower
Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that lives off the nutrients and water from a host tree. Although it is parasitic, it will not kill the host tree but can weaken it.
The berries are often spread by birds from one tree to another, and this is how the large rounded clumps of mistletoe form in tree branches.
The most common host tree in the UK is apple, but poplar and lime are also frequent hosts. It is mainly found in the south and west midlands in the UK, with particularly large populations in Herefordshire.
Mistletoe is a popular Christmas plant and decoration. Most mistletoe on sale comes either from the UK or elsewhere in Europe. Look for plants that are freshly gathered (if necessary, ask when it was harvested), with fresh green foliage and ripe white berries that are plump and not withered. Mistletoe will keep for two to three weeks after gathering if it is kept in a cool place such as a shed or garage.
Do not attempt to gather mistletoe without permission from the landowner.
Although mistletoe is spread naturally by birds, it is possible to grow it yourself;
The branch will swell as the mistletoe develops, but don’t expect quick results; plants can take five years or more to reach berrying size.
Mistletoe is generally free of pests and diseases.
If your propagated mistletoe produces flowers but no berries, it means it is most likely a male plant. Where this appears to be the case, try inserting some more seeds on the branches to see if you can even out the balance between male and female plants.
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