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Mistletoe (Viscum Album)

Much folklore surrounds this plant, and it has been venerated by Romans, Druids and Norse men. It grows as a partial parasite, taking minerals from its host plant but being able to photosynthesise. It prefers trees with soft barks and the most popular host trees are poplars, apple trees, and, more rarely oak. It will also grow on ash, hawthorn, rowan, sycamore and elm. Looking at it backlit by a low sinking sun on a clear December afternoon, you begin to see why it was held it such esteem. The globe of brassy yellow-green leaves shines out against the bare branches of its host, and seems to be suspended halfway between heaven and earth. This plant was photographed on an old Bramley apple tree in the orchard of the family home in Newcastle, County Down. It may have been sown by birds as it is prolific on apple trees in a neighbouring garden. See "Hints and Tips" on how to get this into your own garden.

Copyright A Walsh 2002-2007