In The Land of Mistletoe

Tree with mistletoe, Tidewater Virginia (photo by Kate St. John)

24 December 2021

This weekend we’re in Tidewater Virginia where the trees are bare but not empty. Many hold green balls of American mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum), a hemi-parasitic plant that extracts water and nutrients from tree branches while it also photosynthesizes.

Mistletoe in tree, Tidewater Virginia (photo by Kate St. John)

At this time of year it sports sprays of white berries that are toxic to humans but good for birds.

American mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum (illustration from Wikimedia Commons)

While the birds eat the berries I marvel that mistletoe is common here. We don’t have it in western Pennsylvania (‘x’ = Pittsburgh).

Occurrence of American mistletoe (map from Wikimedia Commons plus ‘x’ for location of Pittsburgh)

At home we buy mistletoe in a store to carry on this Christmas tradition.

It’s above us in the backyard in the land of mistletoe. Perhaps that’s why Virginia is For Lovers.

(photos by Kate St. John and from Wikimedia Commons; click on the captions to see the originals)

1 thought on “In The Land of Mistletoe

  1. Great story and remembrance Kate. When I was a kid growing up on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, this time of year we used to shoot Mistletoe down from the trees for the very purpose depicted in the image. Merry Christmas to all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.