After the tree, there are three other types of foliage we like to bring into the house all with different connotations.
First off let’s consider holly. This beautiful evergreen shrub, with its glossy green leaves and bright red berries, can be seen adorning cards, gift wrap and tables during the Christmas period. Originally brought into the house by pagans, holly was adopted as a representation of the thorny crown that Christ wore on the cross. You can find out more facts about holly here and what the ancient druids thought about it here.
Next up, it’s poinsettia. This is the house plant that everyone wants to have because it looks so Christmassy, but inevitably gets killed off. With that in mind, here are some tips from a flower specialist to help you keep your plant going. ( I’ve not tested them so let me know if you do).
Lastly, the one that you either actively seek out or want to avoid, mistletoe.
We’re all familiar with the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe, but unfamiliar with its origins. In fact, there are several claims; one relates to a Norse myth, another claims that the plant is a symbol of fertility, and another suggests it represents peace and friendship.
Here are a few things that are less well known.
- Mistletoe is a type of parasite that draws the nutrients from the host tree. It does also create it’s own food through photosynthesis like other plants, but can also completely deplete its host.
- The plant has white berries containing a seed that vary in size depending on species. The dwarf mistletoe has large berries that explode. I’d keep away from that one.
- Although mistletoe kills trees, removing it on a large scale can have an adverse impact on birds and animals that feed on the berries
- Don’t try to eat the berries – they are toxic to humans.
- Mistletoe has been used for medicinal purposes, though, since the 1920s and there is some evidence that it can assist with side effects of chemotherapy treatments.
- It is traditional to gift mistletoe at new year to bring luck to the recipient.
Do you have these plants in your house at Christmas? What do you live about them?