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Kiss goodbye to mistletoe?

Is the Christmas Kissing Plant under threat or thriving?

December 22 2011

Mistletoe at our Joans Hill Farm reserve. © Chris Harris / Plantlife

Mistletoe at our Joans Hill Farm reserve. © Chris Harris / Plantlife

Britain could soon find itself facing a shortage of Mistletoe at Christmas but whilst the crop is threatened the species itself is thriving in many areas.

The predicted shortage is due to the unintentional neglect of our Orchards, which is where most of the Christmas Mistletoe comes from.

Jonathan Briggs a Plantlife author and expert on Mistletoe says “Mistletoe grows best on apple trees and particularly well in apple orchards. But we have lost 75% of our traditional orchards in the last 50 years and many orchards that are left are neglected. In Mistletoe’s favourite growing areas Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Somerset, these neglected orchards have too much Mistletoe growing on the trees – a short term gain but a long term decline as these trees will become over-laden and simply give up and die”

It is crucial to point out that in the wider countryside the future looks bright for Mistletoe where it thrives in parks, gardens, and hedgerows. However we need better Mistletoe Management or we are likely to lose most of our harvestable Mistletoe in the next 20 years.

Jonathan makes a number of recommendations to save our Christmas Mistletoe:

  • Orchard Management is key for the Mistletoe crops
  • A third of plants needs to be cut out each season
  • Male plants (berryless so not as popular at Christmas) should be pruned more frequently

At Plantlife’s reserve in Herefordshire experts are leading the way in orchard management. The apple orchard at Joan’s Hill Farm dates back to 1843 and is a vital habitat for Mistletoe. Here you can see our favourite magical Mistletoe thriving thanks to Plantlife’s dedicated team and their orchard management.

In the meantime if you want to help save our Christmas Mistletoe and secure your Christmas Kisses for years to come then why not grow your own?

For images, please contact: Justina Simpson on 07833 700 177 or email justina.simpson@plantlife.org.uk or for interviews contact Jonathan Briggs on 07789 684 585