Marvelous misunderstood mistletoe

Some plants are so entwined with tradition that it’s impossible to think of one without the other. Mistletoe is such a plant. But set aside the kissing custom and you’ll find a hundred and one reasons to appreciate the berry-bearing parasite for its very own sake.

David Watson certainly does. So enamored is the mistletoe researcher that his home in Australia brims with mistletoe-themed items including wood carvings, ceramics, and antique French tiles that decorate the bathroom and his pizza oven.

And plant evolution expert Daniel Nickrent does, too: He has spent much of his life studying parasitic plants and, at his Illinois residence, has inoculated several maples in his yard — and his neighbor’s — with mistletoes.


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