Common Mistletoe
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Common Mistletoe
P Native Photo: Anil Thakur
Common name: Common Mistletoe, European mistletoe
Botanical name: Viscum album    Family: Santalaceae (Sandalwood family)
Synonyms: Viscum album var. album

Common Mistletoe is a hemi-parasitic shrub, which grows on the stems of other trees. It has stems 30-100 cm long with dichotomous branching. The leaves are in opposite pairs, strap-shaped, entire, leathery textured, 2-8 cm long, 0.8-2.5 cm broad and are a yellowish-green in colour. This species is dioecious and the insect-pollinated flowers are inconspicuous, yellowish-green, 2-3 mm diameter. The fruit is a white or yellow berry containing one (very rarely several) seed embedded in the very sticky, glutinous fruit pulp. It is commonly found in the crowns of broad-leaved trees, particularly apple, lime (linden), hawthorn and poplar. Common mistletoe has always attracted popular interest and has been surrounded by a number of myths and legends. In cultures across pre-Christian Europe, mistletoe was seen as a representation of divine male essence (and thus romance, fertility and vitality). It still plays a role in the folklore of some countries. It is native to Europe and western and southern Asia. It is found in the Himalayas, from Afghanistan to C Nepal, at altitudes of 1000-2700 m. It is common on walnut trees in Kashmir.
Medicinal uses: The dried herb is used consisting of younger branches with leaves, flowers and separated fruits. It has widespread medicinal uses.

Identification credit: Anil Thakur Photographed in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh & Kashmir.

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