Mistletoe Still in Demand for the Holidays

Wednesday, December 22nd 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A traditional Christmas decoration that has been known to spark holiday romance is mistletoe, Oklahoma's state flower. With all the high-tech toys of the 90's and theY2K worries around the corner, it's nice to know that some things stay the same.

Mistletoe is not hard to spot it from a distance. It’s just about the only thing that’s green in Tulsa's treetops. Mistletoe has always been surrounded by mystery. European legends for told that mistletoe could cure diseases, heal wounds and even settle family disputes. Its power was demonstrated by the plant's ability to bear fruit in the dead of winter. "It’s pretty tough,” said arborist Joe Roberts. “Because the weather doesn't bother it, and once it gets a foot hold in a tree, it won't go away.” Roberts says don't forget that this Christmas guest is also a tree parasite. “It can be a bad thing, particularly when it gets heavy. In severe cases, it can kill the tree."

Even with all of its shortcomings, mistletoe is still the decoration of choice for London, England transplant and now Oklahoman Amanda Kerr. “It’s an old English tradition,” she said. “They used to hang mistletoe in the hallways of palaces and fine homes. When one person would pass another in the hallway, they could kiss under the mistletoe without reprimand"

Not a bad reputation for such a little green parasite. Even with "Winnie the Pooh" garden flags and Mickey Mouses with Santa hats selling like hot cakes, Kerr says the appeal of mistletoe is timeless. "People this year seem to choose natural holiday decorating around the house,” she said. “They want the live berries rather than the artificial." But be on the lookout says Kerr. Good mistletoe may be hard to find. "If you want it, you've got to find it,” she said. “You will probably have to order it."

If you want to try to grow some mistletoe in your trees, Roberts gives some of his expert advice. “Take a mistletoe berry, rub it on the branch of the tree and then smash it,” he explained. “Then it will probably germinate." It might seem like a lot of work to grow mistletoe, but the rewards can be delightful.