Quiz question: What does Viscum album give us an excuse for stealing at this time of year?
Useful hints: The plant’s common name is mistletoe and how could we forget a traditional bunch strategically dangling above a doorway.
Bunches are expensive to buy but if you’re a patient person, there is the option of growing your own.
The plant is a parasite which develops on many host tree and shrub species, the most common being apple and hawthorn.
The fruits, which are readily eaten by several birds, including mistle thrush, have a strong sticky substance (viscin) surrounding the seed.
This first attaches to the bird’s beak then a handy branch – which becomes the unwitting host.
We can emulate this by making a small incision in the bark of an apple tree and pressing the seed inside, just as Margaret, a Warkworth gardening acquaintance did a few years ago.
Now she picks home-grown mistletoe and that in my book is some achievement.