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Harvesting Mistletoe

Most of the seasonal crop is taken from apple orchards (apple is the English mistletoe's favourite host).

With the decline in management of traditional orchards mistletoe is increasingly either absent in the modern bush orchards, or too numerous in neglected traditional orchards. The English Mistletoe Company promotes the sustainable harvesting of mistletoe in all orchards where practical, including remedial management where trees have become overgrown and so threatened by the excessive  growth.

Mistletoe has no commercial value 'on the tree' - which may account for why so much has become neglected. The cost of harvesting, transport, sorting and packing can be prohibitive without a defined market. The English Mistletoe Company’s website helps to provide that market, and so should encourage better management.

The English Mistletoe Company cuts regularly throughout the mistletoe season, aiming to ensure your mistletoe is less than 2 days old when you receive it.

Mistletoe: most commonly found in old apple orchards.

English Mistletoe has been the subject of several conservation projects in recent years, most memorably the UK's national mistletoe survey of the 1990s. This confirmed the strong association of mistletoe with apple orchards, themselves a declining habitat, and implied long-term problems for mistletoe. It also confirmed the importance of the Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire areas for mistletoe - including Tenbury Wells.

Conservation projects for mistletoe, and a sustainable mistletoe harvest, continue. Current initiatives include the preliminary research on the economic value mistletoe brings to apple orchard owners and mistletoe conservation projects locally and across the country.

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that lives in trees and directly derives a proportion of its required nutrients from its host during its life cycle. Although the plant contains chlorophyll, it depends on the hosts for most of its carbon requirements and for nearly all of its other nutrient and water needs. By this parasite action on a host plant, the mistletoe has a competitive advantage over many other forms of life as it does not have to compete in soil for its water and nutrient needs.

About 18,000 years ago, mistletoe actively migrated north and south and started to evolve to produce the mistletoes we now today. There are four families, of mistletoes but only two of these, the  Viscaceae and Loranthaceae, are of widespread importance.

The family Loranthaceae is large and contains at least nine types, most of which are prolific in the tropics. Most have large, showy flowers and attack a variety of tree hosts.

Native European Mistletoe

For a more details on Mistletoe, the Natural History Museum’s website is a good source of information: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/species-of-the-day/common-species/viscum-album/index.html

The family Viscaceae contains several types, but only Phoradendron and Viscum are important to the legends and myths of the plant. In Europe Viscum album is the major species with which our ancestors knew and formed the basis of many myths, legends, and religious beliefs, as well as being used for medicinal purposes.


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