Mistletoe of America – News and Stories

There are more than 1000 species of mistletoe in the world, but those found in America like warm climates.

“Most mistletoe in Indiana is man-made, and for good reason, because it’s inaccessible and dangerous,” Purcell said. “Our region is prohibitive to growth, except for the extreme south of Indiana. It’s too cold here.

American elms near the Ohio River are among the few reported mistletoe hosts in Indiana. Even though Hoosiers are able to find real mistletoe, decorating with an artificial lookalike is a safer option.

“Mistletoe is highly toxic to pets and humans,” Purcell warned. “Especially berries, which have the highest concentration of phytochemicals.”

Although some animals cannot digest the berries, some birds like them and nest among the mistletoe leaves. They also help mistletoe make their way to the treetops. Once the birds eat the berries, the digested remains stick and grow where they perch. This cycle supports the theory that the name of the mistletoe originates from the Anglo-Saxon words for dung – “mistel” and twig – “sunbathe”.

While her romantic reputation may be overstated, other aspects may be undersold.

“People have used mistletoe to treat common ailments like headaches and high blood pressure for centuries,” Purcell explained. “Now European mistletoe extracts are being used in trials to help fight cancer.”

While mistletoe may ease the symptoms of high blood pressure, we can only guess if it would have helped the Grinch’s heart, which is, after all, two sizes too small.