Mistletoe (Viscum album), as well as oak, in ancient times, is the subject of superstitious veneration.
Magicians of ancient Gauls – Druids worshiped her. The reason for such worship, according to Pliny, was the fact that a growing on oak was considered heaven sent, a sign that God himself chose this tree.
Mistletoe grew, blossomed remained evergreen, while the oak (or other, shelters her tree) shed their leaves in the winter. Its leathery leaves are well maintained and autumn storms and winter cold. In the midst of winter in the mistletoe was seen round, white, shiny berries.
Mistletoe does not have roots in the ground, and it was not clear where it comes from a tree. After all, its no one there to plant and did not sow. This led to a special attitude. First of all mistletoe prized as a cure-all, and means against any poison.
Negros gross of Senegambia were leaves of mistletoe as a mascot "gris-gris" designed to prevent injuries in the war. Japanese Ainu, Swiss peasants and reputable doctors in England and Holland in the XVIII. mistletoe was considered a powerful healing tool.
The ancient Druids believed that mistletoe is a universal antidote maintained until this century, the peasants in the varnish in the south of France: the mistletoe was placed on the patient's stomach and gave him to drink her brew.
Since mistletoe, entrenched on the branches of the tree does not fall to the ground, believed that epilepsy can not fall down in a fit as long as it is a piece of mistletoe extract in a pocket or her in the stomach. Up to the XVIII century. recommend mistletoe as a treatment for epilepsy.
In Switzerland, it was called "thunder broom" – thought she appears on the trees from lightning. In Bohemia believed that "thunder broom"Burned in the fire, the house should be the protection from lightning. The Swedish farmers it was intended to protect the house from fire and lightning. Mistletoe is played not only the role of lightning rod, but also universal key: she attributed the ability to open any locks. But the most precious of her property was to protect from magic and witchcraft. In Austria, was placed on the threshold of the house a branch of mistletoe, to get rid of nightmares, Sweden bunch of mistletoe hung from the ceiling of the house, stables and barn to troll could cause harm to people or animals.
What is this wonderful plant?
Mistletoe could solve the riddle at once. First, we note that its berries are spread around the trees birds. Berries covered with a thin skin, on top of which – a thick layer of viscous mucus sticky "glue bird." If the bird (peck mistletoe berries mostly blackbirds) swallowed the berry in her stomach does not digest the seeds – slimy cover protects them from that. Seeds pass through the digestive tract, along with the birds and droppings fall on the branches of trees. Sometimes the berries stick to the bird's beak, bird infects tree Mistletoe, cleaning beak on its branches.
Once on the tree in some way, mistletoe berries and seeds kept at it with great strength, neither wind nor rain can not get them to fold. It may take quite some time before the seed will germinate, especially if it is stuck in the fall. The wall of the seed breaks, embryonic spine protrudes through the hole and always directed toward the cortical branches. This is true even if the seed is stuck so that it is turned back in the opposite direction. Thus, the root always reaches the cortex, is applied to it, glued to it and develops like a floor cavil. From its center in the bark of the host plant grows thin bone, penetrating to the wood, not intruding, but in it. The formation of such a sucker ends mistletoe development in the first year of her life in a tree. Gradually sucker more and more cluttered mass of wood cells. And even though she herself is not moving, tree surrounds it. At the same time, the outer end of the suction cup is extended outward, and the second year of mistletoe seedlings develop side, "cow" roots stretching alongside one another around the inside of the bark. All cows mistletoe roots stretch to the affected branches up and down in parallel strands or thick green bands, but never one of them surrounds branch and does not form a circular loop around it. Each cow root can reach the back of your top elongating new suckers and they, like the very first square to the axis of the branch, in depth, to the wood.
The entire root system of mistletoe can be compared with a rake: cross bars corresponds crustal root, teeth – suckers. Cross bars lie under the bark parallel to the branch, and the teeth, as it were driven into the wood.
After the first sucker Clip and began to take solid food from the wood of the host tree, there are the first leaves of mistletoe. If the supply tree generously mistletoe thrives, and the crustal roots arise buds break through the bark out and develop new mistletoe bushes.
While all the other plants grow their aboveground portions against the force of gravity on the mistletoe this force has no effect, and it is growing in different directions, sometimes acquiring a branch around the host plant. Mistletoe infests both hardwood and softwood. Most often, it settles in the trees, the branches are covered with soft and juicy bark – the fir, apple trees, poplars. A favorite tree of mistletoe is black poplar (Populus nigra). It occurs and on the pine, at least – on walnut, linden, elm, maple, birch, acacia, willow, ash, hawthorn, on fruit trees. It is found even in the grape vines. On the beech and sycamore trees mistletoe is not a parasite. Sometimes she settles and their relatives.
In mistletoe unattractive yellowish-green flowers that sit for 3 – 5 in the axils of its stems. They appear very early – in March – April, and fruits are formed in September – October. True, under the sky in the tropics, especially in South America, its relatives of the family. Remnetsvetnyh decorated with amazing flowers, reaching 20 centimeters in diameter and painted in the most vivid purple and orange-yellow color.
Mistletoe is poisonous in our forests. Its bark glycoside found in fruit – the poison viskotoksin consisting of amino acids and sugars, as well as vistserin, viskol, choline, acetylcholine, organic acids, fat, carotene, ascorbic acid, resins, alcohol and other substances.
Since the time of Hippocrates, the mistletoe was used in medicine as an astringent and styptic. Currently managed experiments prove its hypotensive (blood pressure lowering) effect.