Mistletoe in abundance

The warmer summer has meant a bumper crop of mistletoe this Christmas.

The plant, which lives on trees, is semi-parasitic and can overwhelm its hosts if it is not trimmed back.

Botanist Jonathan Briggs, who is an expert on the plant, visits orchards to harvest it and to conserve it. Credit: ITV News West Country

You want to buy mistletoe withe the largest number of berries, depending on how fussy you are about tradition.

The old tradition that says you must take a berry off for every kiss, means that if you only have six berries on your sprig then you've only got six kisses!

– Jonathan Briggs, Mistletoe expert
  • The tradition of hanging it in the house goes back to the times of the ancient Druids. It is supposed to possess mystical powers which bring good luck to the household and wards off evil spirits
  • It was used as a sign of love and friendship in Norse mythology
  • The name mistletoe comes from two Anglo Saxon words 'Mistel' (which means dung) and 'tan' (which means twig or stick) so you could translate mistletoe as 'dung on a stick'!

Ken Goodwin reports