The drought that struck as much as 70 percent of Texas earlier this year could be affecting your holiday decorating. Mistletoe is a semiparisitic plant with green leaves and white berries known mostly as something not to be caught standing under unless you’re ready to be kissed. The US species is in short supply this year as a result of the Texas drought (the worst ever in the state’s history), as well as the adverse weather conditions in other parts of the US.
Tiemann’s Mistletoe of Priddy, Texas, one of the US’s main suppliers of mistletoe, said that as much as 60 to 70 percent of the year’s crop has been “compromised” by the drought. Tiemann’s has actually halted shipments for the first time in its 58 years and prices are up — a finger-size sprig will cost you $5 — with retailers and wholesalers having to seek mistletoe from points westward, including California, or even resorting to selling artificial mistletoe.
As sad as it is to think that a centuries-old Christmas tradition is literally withering as global temperatures rise, the New York Times also points out that fewer and fewer people are interesting in hanging up a sprig of mistletoe. One Brooklyn florist calls mistletoe “‘an ugly little bush’” while another in suburban New Jersey dismisses it as a “‘cheap novelty item’” that often gets tossed in the garbage bin.
Due to the shortage, mistletoe is being sold not by the sprig but in fragments in a plastic bag. Harvesting mistletoe means climbing up trees to retrieve it, or using a long pole and hook, or a gun.
Manhattan florist Michael George particularly sums up why, even if mistletoe makes a come back in Texas should more rain fall, the tradition of hanging it up got Christmas décor could be waning:
“In 1901 you needed to be under the mistletoe to steal a kiss in public,” said Mr. George. “In 2011, you can do just about anything you want in public and it goes unnoticed.” When asked about the shortage, Mr. George was confident there would be no love lost.
“I don’t think it will affect the number of kisses,” he said.
Though it will mean that, when future generations hear certain holiday songs — “Under the Mistletoe,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “It Must Have Been the Mistletoe” — someone’s going to have some explaining to do.
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