Before we dive right in, let’s quickly take a look at what mistletoe actually is. Mistletoe is a type of plant that remains green even during winter. It’s a partial parasite that attaches onto tree branches and trunks and feeds off the nutrients from the host tree. However, it can generate its own nutrients via photosynthesis. It’s mostly found on tree species like apple, sycamore, ash and hawthorn. Over time, mistletoe can damage the tree if not managed.
The mistletoe that is used for Christmas decoration is native to North America and Europe. The growth of the plant is spread from tree to tree by birds that eat the mistletoe berries. When the bird squishes the fruit with its beak some of the sticky syrup will cling to its beak. As the animal wipes its beak against another tree branch, the seeds are spread. While birds can safely consume mistletoe berries, they’re not safe for human consumption.