Monday, February 1, 2010

Mistletoe- the Plant of Love

Kissing beneath the mistletoe is an ancient practice during Christmas. The practice has its origin in Norse mythology. Baldr was the Norse god of vegetation.His mother Frigga saw in a dream that he was going to be killed. So she made all the plants and animals and inanimate objects promise not to harm him. But she forgot the mistletoe. The mischievous god Loki made the blind Hoor kill Baldr with a spade made of mistletoe. With the death of Baldr, winter came to the world. The gods brought back Baldr to life.Mother Frigga declared that from then on, the mistletoe would bring love in stead of death into the world.
I discovered the mistletoe growing on my lemon tree when I went on the roof to photograph the Bignonia venusta flowering on the lemon tree. The oval leaves and the flowers of the parasite were unmistakable.

The European Mistletoe, Viscum album is a semi- parasite which lodges itself on trees. It sucks its nutrients from the host tree- so it is also called the Vampire Plant. Its leaves are green and so can make their food.
The mistletoe was a symbol of immortality for the Druids and a symbol of good fortune for the the Romans. Although it is a Hemi parasite, the mistletoe does not kill the host tree, but helps in the pollination by attracting birds.


  1. It makes sense that it was a symbol of immortality. Even now in the dead of winter, you can see it alive and green in the tops of the bare trees.

    Great post! I learned a lot. :)

  2. Interesting post! I have mistletoe on my sapota (Sapodilla) tree but I have never seen it in flower! Good to know that it doesn't harm the host tree much.

  3. we have it here and it lasts through the snow,
    sometimes covering a whole tree and it seems to prefer certain trees per species, if you dig around about mistletoes of the world you will find some very interesting plants!

  4. Meredith' thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.
    J.J., yes, there are interesting plants in the mistletoe family of the worls.
    Shailaja, I think it stunts the growth of the host tree.

  5. Thanks for this bit of myth and romance on a wintry day, Lotus! Seeing your flowers gives us hope of spring's early arrival. The mistletoe that grows here is somewhat different looking. It is the state flower of my childhood home, Oklahoma. But we had never heard that story, but should have!

  6. Lotus leaf you are a wealth of information. Very interesting story on the mistletoe.You are very versed on Norse mythology.

  7. I had always associated Mistletoe with Christmas. I remember learning not too long ago that it was actually a parasite, but because the word parasite is usually associated with something negative I thought it killed the host plant. It's good to read that it actually can be beneficial.

  8. Frances, it is good to know that the mistletoe is a state flower of Oklahoma!I have seen the pictures of the American mistletoe, which are different.
    Helen, the info is from the Web.
    Catherine, I was also surprised when I read the information.