Kiss of death
POSTED: Monday, December 23, 2013 - 3:49pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - 3:48pm
Mistletoe isn't all that romantic as we all believed
BROWNSVILLE (NEWS CENTER 23) — What's the first thing you think about when you see mistletoe? Does Christmas come to mind? It's normal for mistletoe to make holiday romance democratic by making everyone equally kissable...friends, strangers...distant cousins.
But what if you knew what it was a pest for many horticulturists? Phoradendron, the scientific name for American mistletoe, means "thief of the tree" in Greek.
Although it's not a true parasite in scientific terms, mistletoe comes close, sinking its roots into a host tree and leeching nutrients from the tree to supplement its own photosynthesis.
And if that wasn't bad enough, the translation of the word is not close to being romatic.
A few centuries back, some people apparently observed that mistletoe tended to take root where birds had left their droppings. “Mistal” is an Anglo-Saxon word that means “dung” and “tan” means “twig.”
So mistletoe literally means “dung on a twig.”
Also, mistletoe is actually toxic to people.
But the berries and leaves can provide high-protein food for many animals.
Many bird species rely on mistletoe for food and nesting material.
Butterflies lay their eggs on the plants and use the nectar as food.
Mistletoe isn't all bad. It's actually an important pollen and nectar plant for bees.
I know, I know... way to ruin the holiday season. But there is always a plus side to this all. On New Year's you don't have to stand underneath a mistletoe to get a kiss. It's a "Free Kiss" opportunity without standing underneath the dung on a twig!