The original mistletoe

The original mistletoe

Distribution map of Mistletoe, Viscum album, in Europe, from Flora Europaea


The native mistletoe of northern Europe, to be found in wide area from parts of Asia in the east across to Britain in the north-west, can arguably be called the Original Mistletoe.

It is this species, Viscum album, that is at the core of most of the popular traditions and legends about mistletoe, including the association with Christmas, the Kissing tradition, and the ancient associations with Druids, Romans, Norse gods etc.

It is also the main mistletoe species with ancient and fascinating modern medicinal uses.

The Original Mistletoe of legend – Viscum album. Native to Britain and Europe and with a unique and distinctive branching and leaf pattern.

Many of those traditions have spread around the world but, as the original mistletoe is European, the traditions, particularly the kissing one, have to make-do with alternative mistletoe species in America, Australia etc.

None of those other mistletoes quite match our original in appearance – Viscum album is uniquely formed – but that doesn’t seem to bother people too much!

Technically speaking Viscum album exists in several subspecies, and the ‘famous’ one is Viscum album subspecies album, a form that grows on a wide variety of deciduous trees. The mistletoe itself is, of course, evergreen so it is a particularly peculiar sight on deciduous tress during the winter months.  Some other subspecies of Viscum album grow on evergreens, including Firs and Pines in parts of Germany, France and Switzerland.  It is much less obvious on these evergreen trees.

For more about other mistletoes visit our Other Mistletoes and Other Parasitic Plants pages too.


Poster to download and postcards to buy featuring the original mistletoe


Poster: The Mistletoe Matters Consultancy has a mistletoe poster available to download.  It’s a large file (about 1.2 MB) and is optimised to print at about 300 by 450 mm.




Postcards and cards: The English Mistletoe Shop has a small stock of mistletoe postcards and other cards featuring historic prints of mistletoe.

The postcards are in a mixed pack of 4. Click here or the links below to visit the shop.


This page is part of the What is Mistletoe menu tab.  Other pages in this tab include What is MistletoeOther Mistletoes, and Other Parasitic Plants.