Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > December 2017 > BONNIE'S GARDEN--Mistletoe


In Norse mythology, Odin’s son, Baldr, was much beloved.  His mother, Frigg, went to all the plants and animals and obtained promises that they would never hurt him.  She forgot to ask the mistletoe, perched up high in the tree. Loki, the god of trickery, made an arrow out of mistletoe and arranged to have one of Baldrs’ brothers shoot the young god.  Frigg cried tears that turned into little white mistletoe berries.  When her son was resurrected, she decreed that mistletoe was to be associated only with love and anyone who stood beneath it could claim a kiss.

Celtic druids considered mistletoe—which they called All Heal—sacred.  It was a symbol of life and fertility because it was still green and filled with berries in the middle of winter.  They would gather around a tree with mistletoe in the winter and cut the mistletoe with a golden sickle.  They would then divide the branches among them and take them home to hang above their doors to protect them from evil.

In Scandinavia, it was considered a symbol of Peace and enemies could declare a truce beneath it.

And here, well, we all know what mistletoe is for…

The botanical name is “phoradendron”—meaning “Tree Thief.”  Because mistletoe is partially a parasite, it sends its roots down into the tree and leaches nutrients away.  A large infestation can kill or seriously damage a tree.  Interestingly enough, it is actually capable of performing photosynthesis and growing on its own.  It more commonly grows as a parasite however.

 On the other hand, it is an important food source for many birds, including robins, chickadees, and bluebirds.  It’s also a host plant for several species of butterflies. It’s important to remember that mistletoe berries are toxic to humans and household pets, however.

The seeds are often dispersed by birds—either in their droppings or by sticking to their feathers and dropping off elsewhere.  As a matter of fact, the word “mistletoe” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “Mistal” which means “dung” and the word “Tan” meaning twig.  Mistletoe basically means “dung-on-a-twig!”

Dung-on-a-twig---think about that the next time you tie a pretty red ribbon on it and hang it over your doorway…

Speaking of ribbon and holiday decorations, it's the time of year to purchase your Christmas trees, wreaths, poinsettias, and tree topper bows. Stop by the Great Big Greenhouse and Nursery now for the best selection of holiday decorations. We are here to help you decorate your home.
Posted: 12/5/2017 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.
 Security code