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What Mistletoe Actually Does To The Environment

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There is nothing else I love more than Christmas. NOTHING.

It's a magical and lovely time when everyone is happy and kind to each other. And it's the best time of the year to fall in love, OK?!

So, you can imagine my heartbreak when I found out that mistletoe (which is arguably the BEST part about the BEST time of year) is, well, actually a parasitic ball of life that SUCKS the nutrients and life out of trees.

Ugh. THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS, SOCIETY.

Turns out, the semi-parasitic plants attach themselves to trees and feed on all the good stuff inside of them.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, they can even grow into 50 pounds of mega-nasty balls that quickly kill the tree they're infecting.

To make a tragic story even more tragic, the beautiful berries we use as symbol of joy and merriment (and spontaneous makeout sessions) are POISONOUS to humans and many animals.

What gives, mistletoe?!

REUTERS

In an absolutely alarming twist, one particular strand of mistletoe, called "dwarf mistletoe," uses actual fluid pressure to "shoot their seeds into the world at speeds of nearly 50 miles per hour," according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

NOT TODAY, SATAN PLANT.

The name "mistletoe" is suspected to come from a German word meaning "mist" and "tang" which, of course, mean dung or bark, respectively.

It's a blanket term categorizing more than 1,300 plant species that grow all over the world (mostly spread naturally through bird droppings and animal carriers).

So, how did we end up kissing underneath this DUNG? How on EARTH did mistletoe become the romantic holiday tradition it is today?

REUTERS

Turns out, there's a Nordic Myth in which the goddess of love has a dying son. She tries to stop his death by begging every plant and animal to not harm him, but royally screws up when she forgets to ask mistletoe.

Long story short, (I mean... is it though?), the demon plant ends up killing her son, and for some reason, this prompts her to declare it a symbol of love.

After that, she promises to kiss anyone who passes underneath it.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Brits jumped all over this and made it a tradition at Christmas parties. Thanks for royally confusing us, Brits.

Of course, now with a greater understanding of how the plant works and grows, the US government actually provides instructions on how to harvest your own mistletoe.

REUTERS

Ehhh... I think I'll pass, as well as pass on kissing underneath a poisonous dung plant this year.

But, I appreciate the sentiment. After all, it is the holidays, and it's the thought that counts, right?

Citations: So, Mistletoe Is Actually A Tree-Sucking Parasite (Huffington Post)