Mistletoe is in love potions, ancient medicines to ward off epilepsy and ulcers, and even a Justin Bieber Christmas song. But why are so many people throughout the ages fascinated by the mystery and magic of these paradoxical parasites?
To most people's surprise, mistletoe is a parasite that lodges itself on the branches or roots of other plants to steal nutrients and water. The bizarre adaptation started in Australia too – the true home of mistletoe with about 90 different sap-sucking species.
Listen to the episode of our Branch Out podcast below with Botanist Dr Russell Barrett and you'll see that kissing under the mistletoe is the least interesting story about this rare and bizarre group of parasitic plants.
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