Posted 20th Dec 2017
Image courtesy of © Zsuzsanna Bird
Everyone will be familiar with mistletoe - the familiar leaves with sticky white berries in the middle
Yet how much do you actually know about the plant?
The evergreen mistletoe will grow like a parasite, high up among the branches of other trees, tapping into the boughs of trees such as willow, poplar and especially apple for nutrients. It was once a common sight in apple orchards, but it's declined in recent years, as the traditional working habitat has slowly disappeared.
To spread from tree to tree, mistletoe has a clever way of getting around. Mistletoe will offer its irresistible white berries to birds, most notably the mistle thrush. The berries will be coated in a sticky goo - once the bird has had its fill, it moves on and wipes off its beak on the branch of the next tree, often leaving a seed or two behind in its own special glue.
How to do it
Keep your eyes peeled for the round clumps of mistletoe which grows high in the canopy. And maybe take someone special along with you for that perfect mistletoe moment. If you're unable to get to the special places listed below, mistletoe can be found throughout the country and there are some spectacular hanging globes in one of London's Royal Parks, Bushy Park.
Walk down the great avenue where about 70 of the limes are hosts to mistletoes, and around 150 of the hawthorns, that give Bushy its name, also have good mistletoe growths. The commonest places to find this distinctive plant are in 'cider country' - in Somerset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
Herefordshire: Walk through ancient orchards, boughs laden with snow and mistletoe. Though many have been lost over the past century, Herefordshire is still famed for its orchards which can be both havens for wildlife and a source of produce for people. Herefordshire Wildlife Trust manages the orchards at Lower House Farm and Common Hill, where mistletoe still grows in profusion.
Worcestershire, Knapp & Papermill
Lancashire, Pennington Flash
Text and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts