Mistletoe is in love potions, ancient medicines to ward off epilepsy and ulcers, and even a Justin Bieber Christmas song. But why are so many people throughout the ages fascinated by the mystery and magic of these paradoxical parasites?
To most people's surprise, mistletoe is a parasite that lodges itself on the branches or roots of other plants to steal nutrients and water. The bizarre adaptation started in Australia too – the true home of mistletoe with about 90 different sap-sucking species.
Listen to the episode of our Branch Out podcast below with Botanist Dr Russell Barrett and you'll see that kissing under the mistletoe is the least interesting story about this rare and bizarre group of parasitic plants.
Subscribe to Branch Out and don't miss an episode
Please leave us a rating and a review on your podcasting app and share each episode with your friends on social media. You can also keep an eye out on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for new episodes and listen on our website.
Between episodes, head over to our science page to learn more about how world leading scientists are developing solutions to the world’s most critical environmental and biodiversity issues.