Trekking out to the “mistletoe trees” at our ranch has quickly become a December tradition in my family. Longtime blog followers may remember last year’s wild mistletoe post. The retrieval isn’t always easy, especially for someone as short as me, but the reward is a festive yet all too easily forgotten holiday touch. Far beyond the vineyards and up into the hills of our ranch grow clusters of wild mistletoe that thrive high up in oak trees. As the age-old story goes, each time a couple kissed under a mistletoe sprig, they removed one of the white berries. When the berries were all gone, so was the sprig’s kissing power! But sweet history aside, mistletoe is actually a parasite. All mistletoe grows on trees or scrubs and eventually kills the tree by overtaking it; its scientific name, Phoradendron, is actually Greek for “tree thief.”
To accompany the bunches of mistletoe, I also like gathering red berries for a pop of color. You can use whatever red berries are available to you, though juniper berries could even make for an unexpected touch. These berries are from the California-native Toyon tree, which is often called “Christmas berry” or “California holly.” Apparently, the abundance of these trees in the Los Angeles hills are how Hollywood got its name. Finish off your bunches with some festive ribbon and give to family and friends!