SU1835 : Mistletoe (Viscum album)

taken 8 years ago, near to Gomeldon, Wiltshire, Great Britain

Mistletoe (Viscum album)
Mistletoe (Viscum album)
This evergreen lives as a semi-parasite high in the branches of broad-leaved trees in the southern half of Britain. It draws root-sap from its host tree, causing no real harm, and gets carbon dioxide from the air through its own leaves.
Its soft, white, sticky berries are often rubbed on bark and into crevices by birds. The single, round seed sprouts, invading the tree of nourishment. A green shoot develops, puts out a pair of slender, pale green leaves and eventually becomes woody. Branches divide repeatedly, making bushes that can grow three feet across, with life-spans of many years. Each mistletoe pant is either male or female. The tiny, yellow-green, wind-pollinated flowers, which open on the joints in March, have four sepals, four petals and either four minute anthers or a hidden ovary. The juicy white berries ripen in the following winter, attracting mistle thrushes and other birds.
Mistletoe growing on oak denoted a sacred tree to the Druids, and the mistletoe was carefully cut down with a golden knife in a magic ritual. The custom of kissing under the mistletoe may be linked with a fertility rite, although it may be connected with the old custom of hanging mistletoe in a porch to denote peace and hospitality. A sprig in a cradle warded off fairies, and a sprig worn under the hat gave protection against witch-craft.
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SU1835, 29 images   (more nearby )
Photographer
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Date Taken
Tuesday, 5 January, 2010   (more nearby)
Submitted
Tuesday, 5 January, 2010
Category
Wild flowers   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SU 182 359 [100m precision]
WGS84: 51:7.3258N 1:44.4370W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SU 182 359
View Direction
Southwest (about 225 degrees)
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