Viscum album L.


Mistletoe illustration ©Botanical-online.com

Common noun: Mistletoe, European mistletoe

Scientific noun: Viscum album L.

Family: Sandalwood family - Santalaceae (previously Viscaceae)

Habitat: It lives as a semi -parasite plant on the branches of several trees, mainly deciduous such as apple, oaks or poplars,but sometimes on some pines, too.

Characteristics of Mistletoe

Perennial green shrub to one meter long. Its stem is very short but it' s got many branches repeatedly forking,so they make a sort of a big clump hanging from the invaded tree. Flowers are unisexual. They grow in clusters of three or five on male or female plants. Male show four tiny petals and four stamens without anthers, directly joined to petals. Female flowers are very simple. Both of them greenish.

Its fruit is a white, translucent berry about 6 or 10 mm in diameter with only one seed.

Birds are very fond of these kind of berries. One they have eaten them, they get rid of their seeds by rubbing their beaks on to the branches of the trees. By doing this, the sticky seeds get stuck on the tree. There they produce some special roots which begin to suck the sap of the infested plant. Since mistletoe is also able to synthesize part of their food needs by means of the sun,we say that this is a semi-parasite plant.

Picking and storing mistletoe

Berries can be collected in Autumn. The rest of the plant in winter, too. We must dry it in the sun and preserve it in cloth bags in a dry place.


Mistletoe medicinal plant

It diminishes high blood pressure and regulates the heart beat. This effect - according to some authors- only takes place when the active substance (the viscotoxin) is applied through intravenous injection. Some other authors advice us to take infusions from the leaves (a teaspoon per cup) or boilings form the bark (1 gr. per litre) to achieve positive effects for our heart or the blood circulation in general.

The anti-hypertensive properties of mistletoe can be very useful for the treatment of retinal detachment or glaucoma ((Infusion of a teaspoonful of dried plant per cup of water. Take this cup twice daily.)

(Decoction for 15 minutes of a teaspoon of branches and leaves per cup. Do not exceed this amount. 5 g of plant as a maximum per day) This preparation is very useful for tinnitus treatment.

- Anti-epileptic: Take three cups of dry leaves infusion (a teaspoon per cup)

- Anti-rheumatic: Apply a compress soaked with the boiling of dry leaves on the part of the body affected with rheumatic pains.

- Anti-cancer: It offers a derivative called Iscador, with antitumor powers. Nevertheless, there is strong debate about it, arguing that despite its efficacy, it may be also responsible for brain tumors. It has been considered a good immune system booster

Magical uses of Mistletoe

It is a plant which has traditionally been considered magical. The old druids used it to prepare their magical brew. Nowadays it is widespread the modern tradition of considering it a good luck plant.

It is also thought that it will bring happiness to those lovers who kiss themselves under it. This way of thinking has produced a trade, highly extended on Christmas; which although illegal, might endanger this species.


The sticky substance of the berries has been traditionally used to produce a glue to catch birds. This has been considered an illegal method.

punto rojo More information about natural medicine in the listing above.

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"Botanical" is not responsible for damages caused by self-medication.

Botanical-online is an informative page that describes, among other topics, the traditional uses of plants from a therapeutic point of view. Their descriptions do not replace professional advice. Botanical-online is not responsible for self-medication and recommends consulting with the physician.