Updated: Dec 23, 2019
Phoradendron Serotinum, commonly known as American, Eastern, Hairy, Oak, Pacific, or Western Mistletoe, respectively Family: Santalaceae Habitat: Found growing parasitically in trees
Mistletoe is the common name for obligate hemi-parasitic plants in several different families. These plants grow attached to and penetrate the branches of a host tree or shrub by a structure called the haustorium, this is how they absorb nutrients and thrive. This version of Mistletoe is not the same Viscum Album of Druid fame but it is what grows here in the US.
Druids believe seeing Mistletoe growing upon a Sacred Oak to be an indicator of great sacredness. The winter solstice, called 'Alban Arthan' by the Druids was the time when the Chief Druid would cut Mistletoe from the Oak (it often grows high in trees so I imagine some robed Druid delicately climbing an Oak tree trying to stay balanced as to not lop off his or anyone else's head with his Golden sickle, yikes). Lore states that it was cut on the sixth night of the new moon after the winter solstice. A cloth was held below the tree by other Druids to catch the falling Mistletoe, as it is believed with many Magical plants that it would have destroyed the Magic of the sacred plant to touch the ground. The plant would be divided into many pieces and distributed to the people, who hung them over doorways as protection against thunder, lightning and other evils.
It has been stated that the Druids believed that the white berries produced by the Mistletoe represent the sperm of the Gods, growing high in the branches of the Mighty Oak. It seems that this is the reason today that when you find yourself under a sprig of Mistletoe, it's aphrodisiac qualities ensue and a kiss is inevitable!
It is believed to have miraculous properties which could cure illnesses, serve as an antidote against poisons, ensure fertility and protect against witchcraft.
(WARNING, this plant is highly toxic when ingested. You should seek expert advice before using Mistletoe in any form. Be safe.)
Druids Cutting Mistletoe on the Sixth Day of the Moon (c.1890) Henri Paul Motte