“Very Important Things I Learned About Mistletoe from the U.S. Geological Survey, Which Knows All Kinds Of Things Not Only About The Earth’s Crust, As Their Name Would Suggest, But Holiday Flora As Well”:

  • American mistletoe, the type that invariably leads to smooching and should be avoided at office holiday parties at all cost, grows in the United States from New Jersey to Florida and west through Texas. Interestingly, the majority of the U.S. population is in that region. This only makes sense, because higher population means there have been more babies, which means there’s been more … kissing, which is because they’re simply drowning in mistletoe. Maybe I should move.
  • The dwarf mistletoe (which is smaller than the American mistletoe, leading to less kissing) will randomly shoot seeds out of its berries, to a distance of up to 50 feet! Wow!
  • “Mistletoe” means “dung on a twig.” How romantic.
  • Mistletoe is poisonous to people. I imagine the thought process of the early what-do-we-do-with-mistletoe deciders was along the lines of, “Well, we can’t eat it … really, what else to do but hang it up and kiss under it!”
  • One of the names on the USGS article is Todd Esque. Huh. That’s very toddesque.
  • And the most important thing you will learn about mistletoe this holiday season (drumroll please): Mistletoe is an endangered species! Okay, only 20 out of 1,300 species are, but still. So no matter how desperate you are, I have to advise against trundling out into the woods, tearing mistletoe off of the trees, and bringing it home by the armful, in hopes that Saint Nick will send his young, attractive assistant down the chimney this year. (Or better yet, a UPS carrier just for you. Yum.)

With this sad news, I think it’s time to retire the poor mistletoe from its job as kiss-inducer and leave it to its other job of strangling conifers. The new holiday plant o’ love should be … the Bartlett pear. Take that, East Coast! Gristmill readers, you have my leave to kiss strangers whenever there are pears nearby. Consult a partridge as to the whereabouts of the nearest pear tree.