MISTLETOE 1 (Viscum album), a species of Viscum, of the botanical family Loranthaceae.
The whole genus is parasitical, and contains about twenty species, widely distributed in the warmer parts of the old world; but only the mistletoe proper is a native of Europe.
The mistletoe is parasitic both on deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs.
The mistletoe so extensively used in England at Christmas is largely derived from the apple orchards of Normandy; a quantity is also sent from the apple orchards of Herefordshire.
Pliny is also our authority for the reverence in which the mistletoe when found growing on the robur was held by the Druids.
The mistletoe figures also in Scandinavian legend as having furnished the material of the arrow with which Balder (the sun-god) was slain by the blind god Hoder.
The most conspicuous case, perhaps, of all these is the mistletoe, which flourishes luxuriantly upon the apple, the poplar and other trees.
Bonnier has drawn attention to the fact that the mistletoe in its turn, remaining green in the winter, contributes food material to its host when the latter has lost its leaves.
Witches-brooms are the tufted bunches of twigs found on silver firs, birches and other trees, and often present resemblances to birds nests or clumps of mistletoe if only seen from a distance.
According to this writer the Druids held the mistletoe in the highest veneration.
When thus found, the mistletoe was cut with a golden knife by a priest clad in a white robe, two white bulls being sacrificed on the spot.
Many herbs have had the power of curing all diseases attributed to them, and have hence had the name of "all-heal"; such have been, among others, the mistletoe, the woundwort (Stachys palustris), the yarrow or milfoil, and the great valerian.
The leaves in the bud are either placed simply in apposition, as in the mistletoe, or they are folded or rolled up longitudinally or laterally, giving rise to different kinds of vernation, as delineated in figs.
In view of the fact that the oak was the sun-god's tree and that the mistletoe grew upon it, it is suggested by A.
420) that I icov is derived from 103 (mistletoe), the sun's fire being regarded as an emanation from the mistletoe.
Here were great oaks and splendid evergreens with trunks like mossy pillars, from the branches of which hung garlands of ivy and mistletoe, and persimmon trees, the odour of which pervaded every nook and corner of the wood--an illusive, fragrant something that made the heart glad.