This pretty green sprig you stand beneath to kiss your bae is a poisonous parasite.

Find a loved one, date for a couple of seasons scoodlypooping. Alright, let’s get real: walk the aisle, then say the vows. Finally, “you may kiss the bride,” the preacher says. But wait, was that done while standing beneath a mistletoe? How romantic! Unfortunately, you probably have no idea that a mistletoe is a poisonous parasite that survives by sucking the life essence from it’s host. Thank goodness you didn’t kiss the dang thing.

What Is A Mistletoe?

The mistletoe is a leathery-leaved parasitic plant which grows on either apple or oak trees, and the branches of other broadleaf trees and bear white glutinous berries during the winter. It mainly survives by taking water and soil minerals that the tree needs to live. And of course, if the tree dies, then the mistletoe dies with it as well, so it only takes what it needs to survive.

There are more than 1,500 species of mistletoe throughout the world — several mistletoe species in the family Visacaceae, in particular Eurasia Viscum album, and many are toxic, particularly those found in North America like the Phoradendron flavescens. Better yet still, they aren’t all that bad if you thought. Birds are known to eat the berries. Two studies published on The Royal Society, and Science Alert even found that when scientists removed mistletoe from trees in an area, the bird population suffered.

What’s Even Romantic About A Mistletoe

Just as many customary rites, this one has stuck around for a long ass time, and as a result, its origins are murky. Mistletoe stay green throughout the winter season, which seems to be at the root of most mistletoe-based customs — any plant that stays green while the vegetation around it withers and dies must have magical powers, right? Spoiler alert: its because it’s a parasite feeding on the nutrients from the host it’s seeking refuge from. That’s not a nice way to say Merry Christmas to your neighbor.

Ancient civilizations often used mistletoe as a herbal medicine. The Greeks and Romans were known to prescribe mistletoe as a remedy, from menstrual cramps to epilepsy to who-knows-what. It was even used to restore fertility by the Celtic Druids. Today, mistletoe is being used as a cancer therapy. Legend has it that, in Norse mythology, it was even used on an arrow as a sort of “Norse Kryptonite” to slay Baldr.

Whether the mistletoe is magical, mythical, or the gross fact that the berries of some plants secrete a semen-like substance, by the 18th century, it became a customary holiday orientation associated with kissing your boo. Hmmm! It doesn’t sound romantic, does it?

Now, Here’s The Catch!

Throughout the course of history, the custom of men stealing a kiss from women standing beneath a mistletoe first caught the attention of English servants before spreading to the high classes. Now who says the poor have no swag. The catch? As part of the custom, you had to pluck a berry from the mistletoe with each kiss. How long can you kiss? Oh, how many berries can you pluck?

Merry Pluckissmass!

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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Thu, Mar 21, 2019.


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