I find mistletoe fascinating. There is such a lot of folklore attached to it, dating back to the Roman Pliny and his account of druids collecting sacred mistletoe from the sacred oak with a golden sickle at full moon, catching it in a white sheet before it hits the ground or else its magic is lost.
The mystery of mistletoe for me was perhaps made greater because it was very rare in the north of Britain where I grew up. This means that when I come across it in the wild I feel that I have to get a closer look.
Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that lives on trees. Apart from the obvious traditions of kissing under the mistletoe it seems to fit this time of year very well. Firstly, it produces its berries very late in the year, so they are out at Christmas time. Secondly, when the leaves are off the trees it becomes much more visible and obvious as one of the few sources of green foliage in the wood.
Today I took a walk with the family through the woods in Ampthill and I was pleased to see some very healthy bunches of mistletoe on many of the trees. Obviously the conditions for it are just right in this area.
This may look like a normal tree, but the foliage is actually all clumps of mistletoe – huge amounts of it. The only other time I’ve seen it in this amount was almost exactly a year ago when driving through Herefordshire. It’s good to see it here in Bedfordshire too.
Further on down the path I came across a branch that had been blown down in the recent high winds that had a decent clump of mistletoe attached, so now I have some to decorate the house for Christmas. Picking it from a fallen branch was perhaps not as effective as using a golden sickle, but an awful lot easier.
And yes, before you ask, Mrs BWM and I did have a brief kiss underneath the tree…