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Title: Mistletoe
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From: USA
Registered: 11/21/2008

(Date Posted:02/19/2009 06:11 AM)
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

European mistletoe attached to a poplar
European mistletoe attached to a poplar
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Santalales

Santalaceae (Viscaceae)

Mistletoe is the common name for various parasitic plants in the order Santalales, belonging to the families Santalaceae, Loranthaceae and Misodendraceae. The species in Santalaceae were formerly commonly treated in a separate family Viscaceae.

The name was originally applied to Viscum album (European Mistletoe, Santalaceae; the only species native in Great Britain and much of Europe), and subsequently to other related species, including Phoradendron leucarpum (the Eastern Mistletoe of eastern North America, also Santalaceae). In an example of convergent evolution, several less related but superficially very similar plants in the Loranthaceae are also so similar that they have also been called mistletoes.

The European Mistletoe is readily recognized by its smooth-edged oval leaves in pairs along the woody stem, and waxy white berries in dense clusters of 2-6 together. American Mistletoe is similar, but has shorter, broader leaves and longer clusters of ten or more berries together.

Mistletoe biodiversity is markedly higher in subtropical and tropical climates; Australia has 85 species, of which 71 are in Loranthaceae, and 14 in Santalaceae.

The species grow on a wide range of trees, and can eventually prove fatal to them where infestation is heavy, though damage more commonly only results in growth reduction. Most mistletoes are only partial parasites, bearing evergreen leaves that carry out some photosynthesis of their own, relying on the host mainly for mineral nutrients from the ground. The genus Arceuthobium (dwarf mistletoe; Santalaceae) has dispensed with even this, becoming a total parasite relying on its host plant for photosynthesis as well as nutrients.

Most mistletoes are spread by birds (e.g. the Mistle Thrush in Europe, and the Phainopepla in southwestern North America) which eat the berries. The seeds are excreted in their droppings and stick to twigs, or more commonly the bird grips the fruit in its bill, squeezing the sticky coated seed out to the side, and then wiping its bill clean on a suitable branch. The seeds are coated with a sticky gum, viscin, which hardens and attaches the seed firmly to its future host.

The word 'mistletoe' is of uncertain etymology; it may be related to German Mist, another word for dung, but Old English mistel was also used for basil.

While historically often considered a pest that kills trees and devalues natural habitats, mistletoe has recently become recognized as an ecological keystone, an organism that has a disproportionately pervasive influence over its community. A broad array of animals depend on mistletoe for food, consuming the leaves and young shoots as well as transferring pollen between plants and dispersing the sticky fruits. The dense evergreen clumps also make excellent locations for roosting and nesting, with species ranging from Northern Spotted Owls, Marbled Murrelets, Diamond Firetails and Painted Honeyeaters recorded nesting in different mistletoes. This behaviour is probably far more widespread than currently recognised; more than 240 species of birds that nest in foliage in Australia have been recorded nesting in mistletoe, representing more than 75% of the resident avifauna. These interactions lead to dramatic influences on diversity, as areas with greater mistletoe densities support higher diversities of animals. Thus, rather than being a pest, mistletoe can have a positive effect on biodiversity, providing high quality food and habitat for a broad range of animals in forests and woodlands worldwide.

Uses and mythology
The leaves and young twigs are the parts used by herbalists, and it is popular in Europe, especially in Germany, for treating circulatory and respiratory system problems, and cancer. Mistletoe is being studied as a potential treatment for tumors. Although such use is not yet permitted in the U.S., Mistletoe is prescribed in Europe .

Mistletoe figured prominently in Norse mythology (whence the modern Western custom of kissing under bunches of it hung as holiday decorations). The god Baldur was killed with a weapon made of mistletoe. In Celtic mythology and in Druid rituals, it was considered an antidote to poison, but contact with its berries produces a rash similar to the poison ivy rash in people who are sensitive to it (as many are), so the whole plant came to be thought of as poisonous.

In Romanian traditions, mistletoe (vâsc in romanian) is considered as a source of good fortune. The medical and the supposed magical properties of the plant are still used, especially in rural areas. This custom is inherited from Dacians.

Mistletoe has sometimes been nick-named the "vampire plant" because it can probe beneath the tree bark to drain water and minerals, enabling it to survive during a drought (see vampirism). William Shakespeare gives it an unflattering reference in Titus Andronicus, Act II, Scene I: "Overcome with moss and baleful mistletoe"

Nowadays, mistletoe is commonly used as a Christmas decoration. Viscum album is used in Europe whereas Phoradendron leucarpum is used in North America. According to a custom of Christmas cheer, any two people who meet under a hanging of mistletoe are obliged to kiss.

Mistletoe was the official flower for the State of Oklahoma until 2004 when it was replaced by the Oklahoma Rose. Mistletoe however still serves as the state's official floral emblem.

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Rank:Diamond Member

From: USA

(Date Posted:02/19/2009 06:11 AM)

Mistletoe was a plant that was considered in the time of the druids and amongst those who now practice the magical form of herbalism is traditionally harvested with a golden sickle on midsummer or when the moon is six days old according to Gerina Dunwich in her book "The Wicca Garden."

Due to its supposed great protective power, its been used to guard againt such things as 'fire, lightning, mischieveous faries, illness, bad luck, nightmares, and all forms of evil.'

It's 'also an herb of love magick, and at one time it was believed that a magacian could make himself invisible by wearing an amuletic necklace made of mistletoe. Locks can be magically opened with mistletoe (according to folklore), wounds are heald quickly when mistletoe is laid upon them, and conception is aided when it is carried by the women desiring to have children. The mistletoe is one of the traditional ritual herbs of Yuletide season and the Winter Solstice Sabbat.'

According to Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs this is the information he gives:

"MISTLETOE (Viscum album -European POISON
Mistletoe; Phoradendron flavescens - American Mistletoe)

Folk Names: All Heal; Birdlime, Deevil's Fuge; Donnerbesen, European Mistletoe, Golden Bough, Holly Wood, Lignam sanctae crucis; Misseltoe, Thunderbesem, Witches Broom, Wood of the Cross

Gender: Masculine

Planet: Sun

Element: Air

Deities: Apollo, Freya, Frigga, Venus, Odin

Powers: Protection, Love, Hunting, Fertility, Health, Exorcisim

Ritual Uses: As is well known, the Druids revered the mistletoe, especially when found growing on an oak. It was (and still is) cut on Midsummer's day, or else when the moon is six days old. One stroke of a gold sickle was used to cut the herb, and it wasn't allowed to touch the ground.

Magical Uses: Long used for protection against lightning, disease, misfortune of every kind, fires and so on, it is carried or placed in an appropriate spot for these uses. The leaves and berries are used. Mistletoe is placed in cradles to protect children from being stolen by fairies and replaced with changelings.

A ring carved of mistletoe wood will ward off sicknesses when worn and the plant will cure fresh wounds quickly when carried (do not apply to the wound).

Mistletoe is also carried or worn for good luck in hunting, and women carry the herb to aid in conception. It has also been utilized in spells designed to capture that elusive state of immortality, and to open locks. (Hmm..sounds like a plant someone like Hermes would appreciate to me. :D )

Laid near the bedroom door, mistletoe gives restful sleep and beautiful dreams, as it does when placed beneath the pillow or hung at the headboard.

Kiss your love beneath mistletoe and you'll stay in love. Burned, mistletoe banishes evil. Wear it around your neck to attain invisibility. Misletoe is an all-purpose herb." (Of course I really wouldn't try becoming invisible with it *LOL*)

And that was everything I have on it. If you noticed Mistletoe, today is also part of our christmas tradition as we still kiss our beloveds when we stand underneath it. I guess some folk traditions are very hard to kill. Please bear in mind when I posted this it was with the idea of the magical uses of plants and the sources I have on that are by authors who are practitioners of alternative religions. If there is more info on mistletoe that you think should be added or something you feel is not correct please feel free to voice that


[I selected this article to post even though it is not the Yule season, it is interesting for readers of this blog. Happy reading... .]

A symbol of love and peace, mistletoe is held as a mystical, magical and sacred plant. Its traditions date back centuries to rituals of pagans celebrating the coming winter. So sacred in fact, that during battle, if they happened across it, ancient Druids would maintain a truce until the following day.......

This ancient Scandinavian custom led to the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe. But this tradition went hand-in-hand with the Norse myth of Baldur. Baldur's death and resurrection is one of the most fascinating Norse myths and stands at the beginning of the history of mistletoe as a "kissing" plant.

The Greeks believed that mistletoe had the power of fertility. Kissing under the mistletoe is first associated with the Greek festival of Saturnalia, and later on with primitive marriage rites.

Pluck a berry for every kiss, and once the last is gone, there should be no more kissing!

Mistletoe of the sacred oak was especially sacred to the ancient Celtic Druids. It was considered the soul of the oak. Gathered at winter and summer solstices, it was used to decorate houses during winter.

Later, in the Middle Ages, people would hang mistletoe from their ceilings to ward off evil spirits and over their doors to prevent witches from entering.

In parts of England and Wales, to give luck to an entire herd of cattle, farmers would give the Christmas bunch of mistletoe to the first cow that calved.

In some parts of England, the Christmas mistletoe is burned on the twelfth night otherwise all the boys and girls who kissed under it will not marry!

There are two types of mistletoe, a partial parasite, sending its roots into a tree to take up nutrients, but also with the ability to photosynthesise. It is native to North America and grows as a parasite on trees from Florida to New Jersey. The other is native to Europe. It grows as a green shrub with small yellow flowers and white sticky berries which are most commonly found on apple trees and only rarely on oaks.

The common name is derived from the belief that it was spread in bird droppings. ‘Mistle’ is Anglo Saxon for ‘dung,’ and ‘tan’ is the word for ‘twig’. So mistletoe actually means dung-on-a-twig!
Although its scientific name, Phoradendron, means ‘thief of the tree’ in Greek

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