Nature Trivia-Mistletoe

The red and white berries that grow on mistletoe are eaten by birds that eventually leave their droppings at their favorite hang-out spot -- on a tree branch. The droppings contain seeds that sprout roots into the tree branch. The birds also help spread the seed by wiping their beaks on the tree bark to clean off the sticky seeds after they've eaten. The seeds are sticky because of the juice inside the berry. This stickiness helps the seeds stay in the tree rather than falling to the ground. Within six weeks, the mistletoe plant begins growing, although it takes five years to flower.

Mistletoe got its name in the second century, from the Anglo-Saxons. "Mistel" is the word for "dung," and "tan" is the word for "twig" -- misteltan is the Old English version of mistletoe, and this name tells us that mistletoe is named after bird droppings on a branch. One of the beliefs in the early centuries was that mistletoe grew from birds. People used to believe that, rather than just passing through birds in the form of seeds, the mistletoe plant was an inherent result of birds landing in the branches of trees.


John said...

Nice observation, thanks.

carrie said...

Isn't God so creative!
By the way, everytime I view this page, my dog hears the bird song, and starts whining and barking. I guess it's just the right pitch!

Kimmie said...

Thanks for sharing this...I have enjoyed reading your blog. I also consider myself an amateur naturalist.

I was just reading last night in the paper of Mt. MA..a place where Thoreau walked, watched and wrote about the beauty God deposited there...very near Walden Pond. I think he would enjoy your blog! ;-)

Keep up the good work and excellent posts!

lindafay said...

Thanks for the encouragement everyone.