Mistletoe is the common name for the Loranthaceae, a family of chiefly tropical semi parasitic herbs and shrubs with leathery evergreen leaves and waxy white berries. They have green leaves, but they manufacture only part of the nutrients they require. Mistletoes are aerial semi parasites, attaching themselves to their hosts by modified roots called haustoria, with which they absorb water and food from the host.
In botanical terms, the mistletoe is called Viscum album, with white viscous fruits, growing on apples, apricots, and very rarely on the oak. No wonder, ‘ mistletoe’ is often taken to denote somebody who is a parasite by nature!
Mistletoe is associated with Christmas Day, 25th of December and is an integral part of Christmas celebration and decoration.
Another significant meaning is also attached to this interesting flower, “I want to be kissed!”
The custom of kissing under a branch of mistletoe apparently originated among the Druids and other early Europeans, to whom mistletoe was sacred. From early times it has been associated with folklore and superstition.
In England, the Christmas mistletoe was burned on the Twelfth Night so that boys and girls who had kissed under it would not be jinxed and would be able to marry.
The Victorians saw the flower as an emblem of the power to surmounting difficulties; this is possibly due to the arduous task of this parasitic flower to survive in spite of harsh and hostile circumstances.
The mistletoe family is classified in the division Magnoliophyta of the class Magnoliopsida and the order Santalales.
The romantic heritage of some flowers is relatively easy to trace. For instance, myrtle was sacred to Aphrodite, the mythological Greek goddess of love. In the floral pattern of meaning, it is no surprise, that the flower myrtle symbolizes love.
Biologically, myrtle is the common name for the Myrtaceae, a family of shrubs and trees almost entirely of tropical regions, characterized by evergreen fragrant leaves containing aromatic volatile oils. Many have showy blossoms. The myrtle flower is associated not only with love and affection, but it signifies joy and happiness.
In medieval times, the myrtle was used for bridal garlands. Flowers are inseparable from wedding ceremonies, where they are emblems of fertility as well as decoration. In the past, the bride wore a garland of flowers in her hair, signifying that the reputation of the bride was flawless. The Roman bridegroom wore a wreath of myrtle. The Victorians, with their love of flowers, endowed them with finer shade of meaning. Myrtle in the Victorian era came to be associated with duty, affection, discipline and home. This flower is also the Hebrew emblem of marriage. In the world of superstition, if a person dreams of a myrtle, it is a promise of many lovers and a legacy. If a married person dreams of myrtle, it foretells a second marriage!
The classical myrtle (M. communis) is native to the Mediterranean area. It is a strongly scented bush whose glossy leaves and blue-black berries were made into wreaths for victors in the ancient Olympic games.
The myrtle family is classified in the division Magnoliophyta of the class Magnoliopsida and order Myrtales.