Don't eat the mistletoe

While North American mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum) is unlikely to kill anyone, European mistletoe (Viscum album) will certainly make folks very sick and possibly dead. Curious about the origin of the name? Mistel is the Anglo-Saxon word for dung, and tan is the word for twig; put together this becomes dung-on-a-twig. Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that establishes itself on tree branches through seeds deposited in bird poop. The botanical name does a pretty good job of describing how this plant gets started, eh?

Over the years, a tradition evolved that said a man could kiss any woman caught standing beneath the mistletoe. Here's hoping you catch your special sweetie below the mistletoe this season!


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