Mistletoe without berries

An Excuse for a Kiss!

Seeing mistletoe in the shops at Christmas reminded me of some mistletoe I grew a few years ago. When I moved from my previous house, the mistletoe had sprouted on an apple tree I had seeded. However, I was not there long enough to see it grow any bigger than a few leaves.

With all of our apple trees, old and new, I thought this year I would give it another go.

It appears the best time to start growing mistletoe is in February, when the berries are at their ripest. Not wanting to spend too much money purchasing fresh berries in February, and having had success with mistletoe bought at Christmas, I thought I would do the same again.

So with my Christmas bought mistletoe, I picked off all the berries.

Mistletoe Berries
Mistletoe Berries

They look like little white currants, each one contains a very sticky sap like substance.

Mistletoe berry contains a sticky substance
Mistletoe berry contains a sticky substance

The sticky substance is important, as this is what helps the seed adhere to the tree. You can see the seed above which appears as a little hard tadpole embryo from within the soft flesh of the berry.

I crush each berry on a branch of an apple tree (mistletoe will only grow on certain trees, one of which is the apple).

Crushing a mistletoe berry in order to release the seed onto the branch of the apple tree
Crushing a mistletoe berry in order to release the seed onto the branch of the apple tree

Once crushed, I rub the seed around a bit to make sure it sticks to the branch (and not my finger). The outer skin of the berry is not important, so if this fall off it is not an issue.

Mistletoe Berry squashed exposing the seed
Mistletoe Berry squashed exposing the seed

I then mark the branches that I have seeded with a bit of biodegradable string.

String marking where a Mistletoe seed is placed
String marking where a Mistletoe seed is placed

If all goes to plan, later in the spring I could see the signs of mistletoe sprouting.

Mistletoe is slow growing, so it will take a good number of years before I have my own for kissing under.

Tom Good

View posts by Tom Good
Read my blog about buying a Victorian farm house in Devon, England. What started as a dream of self sufficiency, is now a midlife reality.

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