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A Brief History Of Mistletoe

Dallying under the Mistletoe during the holiday season is an ancient tradition among lovers young and old.

But, the green sprig, tied with a red bow has a fascinating history. Mistletoe -- whether the American mistletoe of holiday fame, or dwarf mistletoe, a much smaller variety -- has been with us for a long time. Fossilized pollen shows that mistletoe has been on Earth for millions of years.

Did you know that mistletoe is actually a parasite that attaches itself to trees and draws out nutrients and minerals. The plant's scientific name, Phoradendron, means "thief of the tree" in Greek.

The seeds hitch rides in animal fur, or on the beaks of birds that feed on mistletoe berries. Bird droppings also spread the sticky seeds, which attach themselves to trees.

Um, no irreverence intended, but "Mistel" is actually an Anglo-Saxon word for "dung" and "tan" is the word for "twig." So, Mistletoe means, "dung on a twig."

Mistletoe is a vital part of a healthy forest ecosystem. Ponder that when you put up the Mistletoe this season. You can think of that holiday wreath as a gift...from, well, the birds.

Script by Bob Rhein

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