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Viscum album - L.

Common Name Mistletoe, European mistletoe
Family Viscaceae
USDA hardiness 6-9
Known Hazards All parts of the plant are poisonous[10, 19], though the toxicity level is very slight[65]. Hepatitis may occur. Toxic doses: hypotension, coma, seizures, pupil dilation, death. Contraindicated during pregnancy. Can interfere with allopathic drugs for high blood pressure, heart disease, antidepressants and anticoagulants. Avoid for progressive disorders like tuberculosis. It's use for cancers and leukemia is currently under review [301].
Habitats Grows on the branches of many trees, especially poplars, apples, chestnut and birch and especially on calcareous soils[7, 17]. Not usually found on conifers[17].
Range Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to N. Africa, central Asia and Japan.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Viscum album Mistletoe, European mistletoe

Viscum album Mistletoe, European mistletoe


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Viscum album is an evergreen Shrub growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 7. It is in leaf all year, in flower from February to April, and the seeds ripen from November to December. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). . The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Stelin album Bubani


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit
Edible Uses:

The ripe fruit is edible[272]. Some caution is advised, see notes above on toxicity[K].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antianxiety  Anticonvulsant  Antidiarrhoeal  Antispasmodic  Cardiac  Cytostatic  Diuretic  Epilepsy  
Hypotensive  Narcotic  Nervine  Stimulant  Tonic  Vasodilator

Mistletoe is chiefly used to lower blood pressure and heart rate, ease anxiety and promote sleep. In low doses it can also relieve panic attacks and headaches, and also improves the ability to concentrate[254]. The plant's efficacy as an anticancer treatment has been subject to a significant amount of research - there is no doubt that certain constituents of the plant , especially the viscotoxins, exhibit an anticancer activity but the value of the whole plant in cancer treatment is not fully accepted[254]. It is said that the constituents of mistletoe vary according to the host plant it is growing on - that found on oak trees is said to be superior[238]. Because of the potential side effects, this plant should only be used internally under the guidance of a skilled practitioner. Using the plant internally can provoke intolerant reactions to certain substances[7]. The leaves and young twigs contain several medically active compounds[279]. They are antispasmodic, cardiac, cytostatic, diuretic, hypotensive, narcotic, nervine, stimulant, tonic and vasodilator[4, 7, 19, 21, 46, 66, 165, 238, 279]. They are harvested just before the berries form and are dried for later use[4]. Mistletoe has a reputation for curing epilepsy and other convulsive nervous disorders[4]. The effect of the correct dosage is to lessen and temporarily benumb the nervous activity that causes the spasms, but larger doses can produce the problem[4]. Mistletoe has also been employed in checking internal haemorrhages, in treating high blood pressure and in treating cancer of the stomach, lungs and ovaries[4, 9, 238, 279]. Externally, the plant has been used to treat arthritis, rheumatism, chilblains, leg ulcers and varicose veins[238]. A homeopathic remedy is made from equal quantities of the berries and leaves[4]. It is difficult to make because of the viscidity of the sap[4]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Viscum album Mistletoe for rheumatism, tremor therapy as a adjuvant (see [302] for critics of commission E).

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

None known

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A parasitic plant, growing on the branches of several deciduous species of trees. It is not usually found on coniferous trees, though the subspecies V. album abietis is found on conifers, especially Abies spp, whilst V. album austriacum is found on pine and larix. The host tree must be at least 20 years old[200]. Although the host branch might eventually succumb, the host tree is seldom killed[200].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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This is a parasitic plant that grows entirely on the host tree. To grow it you need to obtain berries and squash them onto the branches of host trees in late autumn and early winter[11]. This is best done on the lower side of the branch[1]. It is then simply a matter of waiting and hoping.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


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Readers comment

A. Tanovic   Tue Nov 30 19:45:56 2004

Viscum album cannot be considered a parasitic plant just because it lives on some trees. It has its own chlorophyl and produces the food for itself, by itself, through the process of photosynthesis. It does not use organic substances from its host as the ready food for consumption - something that parasites always do.

Peter Mogensen   Thu Aug 26 11:43:14 2004

"The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil. " - this quote is taken from your info regarding viscum album !!!!!!

It doesn't make sense....furthermore viscum album is a semi-parasitic plant and DOES NOT, grow in soil...!

The use of viscum album troubles me...after reviewing more than 250 articles, I haven't found reports of several of stated uses!! ...and most important,; the compounds (and by this: efficiency) in viscum is MUCH related to the host tree...in a degree that you cannot mention the use of viscum without taking species of the host tree into concieration..

kind regards Peter

Edwin Omeje   Wed Oct 10 2007

Mistletoe is semi-parasitic because it depends on the host for water and certain minerals despite the fact that it manufactures its own food. It canoot manufacture the food without the water or even the chlorophyl without some ions. The dependence of the constituents on the host tree is a clear indication of its semi parasitic nature.

Edwin Omeje   Wed Oct 10 2007

Mistletoe is semi-parasitic because it depends on the host for water and certain minerals despite the fact that it manufactures its own food. It canoot manufacture the food without the water or even the chlorophyl without some ions. The dependence of the constituents on the host tree is a clear indication of its semi parasitic nature.

ilana yaacobi   Thu Nov 1 2007

Is there any experience in using this herb as a prevention? Is this herb strength the immune system?

Edwin Omeje   Thu Feb 14 2008

Our research group based in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka are begining to discover some significant differences between the European Mistletoe and the african mistletoe represented by Loranthus micranthus in terms of chemical composition and bioactivity

AJULUFO GOSPEL C.   Wed Jan 14 2009

where can one get this plant in a greater quantity in Nigeria nd does it have and effect on coagulation nd immune system?

Phumlani Viwe Cimi   Mon Oct 26 2009

Xhosas believe that this must not be part of fire making. If it is boys must not come closer to that fire as this may damage their reproductive organs

   Dec 26 2013 12:00AM

Propagation The berries should,as the article states,be squashed onto the bark of the hoist tree.I have successfully introduced Mistletoe onto several apple-trees only 5-6 years of age. Success is improved by applying a grease-band below the site of the seeds as they can be eaten by pests. Germination is extremely slow,and may be unnoticeable for the first two years or so.After two or three years,growth proceeds rapidly. Nick Barber

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