Shotguns & Mistletoe, A Southern Tradition

When I was telling my friend Beth of an upcoming blog shoot I was doing about mistletoe, she asked, "You know how they harvest mistletoe in the South, right?" When I said "no," she replied, "a shotgun." This was a happy blogger moment. 

I had no clue. Apparently mistletoe can do a lot of damage to trees. It digs through bark, sucks out sap and nutrients, sometimes killing the tree. In the South, you'll find it in big bundles high in the treetops...and as many a southerner will tell you, "best way to get rid of it is to shoot it out with a shotgun." 

Mistletoe has a storied past. The ancient Druids found value in the plant as when seasons changed and every other plant turned brown, its leaves stayed green. They believed it could ensure fertility, cure illnesses and ward off poisons and witchcraft. Although it's been considered an invasive parasite by many, it's actually an ecological keystone species. A large array of animals depend on mistletoe for food. It attracts various birds and increases diversity rather drastically wherever it grows. 

The idea of kissing under the mistletoe seems to date back to 16th century England. Other records show a Scandinavian origin- and I like their custom which includes plucking a berry every time a kiss is made under the mistletoe and when the last berry has been picked, the privilege ceases. 

Liz Gudmundsson is part owner of Adaptation Floral Design in Atlanta. When you walk into her lovely shop, you can immediately tell there is a talented designer at work here. Her floral collections are thoughtful, one of a kind and gorgeous so when I was thinking of a post about mistletoe, I knew to ask Liz. It turns out she has bunches of them for sale in her shop, all with pretty holiday ribbons of course. 

If you're in the Atlanta area this weekend, stop by Adaptation (open till 5:30) for your own bunch of mistletoe ($7-$15) or check out one of her many other lovely Christmas creations. From top, 6" cedar and eucalyptus wreath, $15;  12" Magnolia, olive and bay leaf wreath, $35; Moss decorative trees, from $10. 

Wherever you are, I hope you buy some mistletoe this season- or shoot it out of a tree with a shotgun. Tied with a pretty ribbon atop the doorway, the end result is festive and fun, especially if you happen upon the right person under its spell...

 

Photos and Content: Sweet Peach  Shotgun photos: randrflyfishing.com; janetsmart.blogspot.com; kimraff.blogspot.com