Jonathan's Mistletoe Diary

October 25, 2014

New season mistletoe – loaded with berries

Filed under: Biodiversity,Current Affairs,Mistletoe,Orchard,Science — Jonathan Briggs @ 7:52 am
Mistletoe, late October 2014. Loadsa berries, and white already

Mistletoe, late October 2014. Loadsa berries, and white already

New season mistletoe looking good. Lots of berries – again… We seem to have several good berry seasons in a row. This year they’re even turning white early – with some almost fully white (though not yet translucent) already. That fits with other fruiting trends this season – many other plants’ fruits and berries ripened early too.

The mistletoe berries aren’t all green though – plants still in shade still have solidly green berries. Our biggest garden mistletoe is one of those, and is steadfastly refusing to turn white – yet. But the shade is rapidly vanishing, as host tree leaf-fall has accelerated in the last week and is exposing more and more mistletoe.

The deciduous mistletoe Loranthus europeaus, native to central southern Europe. Not obvious in winter!

The deciduous mistletoe Loranthus europeaus, native to central southern Europe. Not obvious in winter!

That sudden ‘exposure’ at this time of year is one of our mistletoe’s distinctive features – contributing to its role in legend and tradition as a symbol of ongoing life. The tree may look ‘dead’ as it loses more and more leaves, but the evergreen mistletoe, newly exposed, represents ongoing green life.

Not all mistletoes are like this of course – I was reminded in a discussion yesterday about the European Oak Mistletoe, Loranthus europaeus, being deciduous, and therefore NOT obvious in winter. Here’s a picture I took a few years ago of the only known specimen in Britain (in Kew Gardens). Can you spot which is mistletoe and which is tree? A leafless mistletoe just becomes another clump of branches. So it’s a good thing ours is evergreen – otherwise we might not have all those old traditions

Marketing promo’s taking advantage of those traditions are, as usual, coming in thick and fast now. Here’s one (my ‘mistletoe’ book of the week) for this week, brought to my attention in a newspaper (The Torygraph) promotion:

‘Mistletoe’ Book of the Week for w/e 25th October is…
…the paperback edition of Kate Mosse’s The Mistletoe Bride and  Other Haunting Tales . I’ve chosen it not because it’s particularly mistletoey (it isn’t, apart from the title story, and that’s not, really, very mistleotoey).

Its place here is really because the cover design earns the first mistletoe graphic thumbs-down of the season.

Whatever is that green stuff on that branch? If it’s supposed to be mistletoe the artist (and the art commissioning editor at Orion) have clearly never seen, or even bothered to look up, mistletoe. It looks like some sort of creeper, a day or so after herbicide treatment.

It’s so unlike mistletoe it’s a strong contender for the Naff Depiction of Mistletoe Award for 2014. But nominations are still open, so worse may yet appear.



  1. Nice to see Loranthus europaeus is growing in England..

    Comment by spongman — October 26, 2014 @ 6:06 pm | Reply

  2. We have read the Kate Mosse book a nice little take on the Mistletoe bride story.

    Comment by spongman — October 26, 2014 @ 6:08 pm | Reply

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