Britain is in danger of losing its mistletoe, that traditional winter decoration now entwined with a Kiss Me Quick Christmas culture, but whose use dates back to Pagan times.
The parasitic plant grows best on apple trees but fruit growers have been grubbing out orchards in England for decades and now much of the mistletoe is imported from the EU.
Even cider apple orchards are in decline despite a recent boom is strong cider sales – much of it from Ireland - and the National Trust has launched a campaign to persuade shoppers to buy English mistletoe from the “cider triangle” between Herefordshire and Somerset.
Apart from Christmas use, the plant’s white berries provide an invaluable food source for birds including the mistle thrush – a matter of supreme importance in the early harsh winter.
Britain’s fruit production has been in decline ever since we entered the then Common Market in the 1970s. As well as apples, other traditional English fruit like pears and cherries now come mainly from the EU.