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Viscum album

Type Categories Useful Parts


Viscaceae Family

Viscum Genus
Other Names for this Plant

Mystldene, Holy Wood, All-heal, Birdlime Mistletoe, Devil's Fuge, European Mistletoe, Herbe de la Croix, Lignum Crucis, isselto (Culpepper), Mistel


V. album grows in Europe, northwest Africa, and southwest and central Asia and Japan; the Asian plant is a special variety, V. album (L) var. coloratum. V. album is grown in the US in Sonoma County, California; it is not imported. American mistletoe grows in the eastern US from New Jersey to Florida, and from southern Ohio to southern Indiana. It is prevalent in Texas and some species are common in California and Oregon.

Physical Description
Mistletoe is a parasite that grows on larger plants, usually hardwood trees, its roots drawing nutrients from the sap of the host plant. It has lanceate green leaves and a short stem with many forks and can form a large, bushy clump hanging from the host plant up to three feet long. Plants are unisexual and greenish flowers form in clumps. White, translucent, veined berries with one seed follow.

General Information

Medicinal Uses: Although Mistletoe leaves are reputed to be an effective remedy for high blood pressure, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has labeled this herb “unsafe” and does not approve of its use in treating any illnesses.

European Mistletoe has a variety of immunological and biological properties and is used for adjuvant treatment of cancer and tumors.

For Menopause complaints of breathing difficulties, feelings of anxiety, heart palpitation, hormonal imbalance, hot flushes, and normalizing circulation. For General female complaints of bleeding after childbirth, chronic cramping, female infertility, heavy menstruation, uterine and menstrual disorders.

Cultivation: The juice of the berries is very sticky and allows seeds to stick to the bark of a tree. They prefer softer deciduous trees; especially apple trees and they are frequently found on Ash and Hawthorn as well. Only rarely are they found on something as hard as an Oak.

If you wish to grow your own mistletoe, you will need to obtain fresh berries. Squish them down onto the wood on the underside of a branch of an appropriate tree so that the juice makes the seed stick. Some people make notches in the wood for this purpose, but how much do you want this poor tree to go through? A threadlike root will form in a few days and pierce the wood, eventually finding its way into the tree itself. You should select a large, healthy tree and a branch that will get plenty of its own sunlight. The mistletoe will take up to two years to mature.

Propagation: From seed

Other Notes: Kissing under the mistletoe is a Christmas tradition, one that is supposed to bring good luck. Kissing under the Mistletoe originated with the Roman festival of Saturnalia. In England, kissing under the Mistletoe took place on Christmas, of course. The man must pick a berry when the kissing was complete, and once the berries were gone, there was no more kissing. The mistletoe must then be burned on the twelfth night to ensure that those who kissed under it would marry.

In England and Wales, farmers gave a bunch of mistletoe to the first cow that calved to ensure the health and production of the whole heard for the year.

In Scandinavia, mistletoe was a symbol of peace under which warring parties swore truce.

Throughout the Middle Ages, mistletoe was banned by the church because of its association with fertility and all of the fun debauchery that goes with it. As a substitute, holly was suggested. Even as late as the 20th century some churches did not allow people to wear mistletoe to services.

Mistletoe retained its lusty reputation, however. During the Victorian era, public displays of affection were largely frowned upon, but if you were standing under the mistletoe, you were going to get kissed. A tradition we still hold dear today.

The legend of kissing under the Mistletoe comes from a Scandinavian legend:

'Balder, the God of Peace was slain with an arrow made of Mistletoe. The gods and goddesses restored him to life and the Mistletoe was given into the keeping of the Goddess of Love, who decreed that everyone who passed under it should receive a kiss to show it had become an emblem of love and not hate.'


Warning: Due to Viscotoxins being present in the juice and berries it is toxic to Pets and small children are at a great risk! The symptoms are Slow and weaken the heartbeat and constrict blood vessels, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, chills, fever, headaches, angina and hypotension, fixed and

dilated pupils, diplopia, irritated conjunctiva, bradycardia, vasoconstriction, hypo- or

hypertension, seizures, delirium and hallucinations. Cardiac arrest may occur.


Comment: Mistletoe, Viscum album

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