A Parasitic Plant

December 21, 1997
On this day, The Saskatoon Sun, out of Saskatchewan, Canada, shared an article about the tradition of mistletoe.

“Mistletoe is especially interesting botanically because it is partially parasitic. As a parasitic plant, it grows on the branches of trees, sending out roots that penetrate into the branches to take up nutrients.
Mistletoe's common name is derived from the ancient belief that the plant was propagated from bird droppings. This belief was related to the then-accepted principle that life sprang spontaneously from dung. Mistletoe is derived from an old English word Mistletan. Mistel is the Anglo-Saxon word for dung, and tan is the word for twig, so mistletoe translates to "dung-on-a-twig.”
By the 16th century, botanists had discovered that the plant's sticky seeds tended to cling to the bills of birds so that they were left on branches where birds rubbed their bills to clean them.”

This post was featured on
The Daily Gardener podcast:

helping gardeners find their roots,
one story at a time

Leave a Comment