For Christmas, the ScienceGrrl Oxford (and Irchester!) Chapter have decided to celebrate girls in STEM at Christmas and give you 12 days of surprising Christmasssy science facts! Here is #ScienceGrrl #12days fact No. 2 from @drnatashajsmith
We think Mistletoe is the romantic plant of the festive season and is all about love but actually there is some interesting science behind mistletoe too!
All that lovely Mistletoe we see full of bright pearly white berries? Yep – all female plants! Mistletoe has separate male and female plants – and if yours is a male it won’t have any berries. Even some female plants don’t have berries if they grow in isolation, away from other (male) mistletoe plants.
Sadly, the word “mistletoe” itself isn’t very romantic either. Several hundred years ago, some people observed that mistletoe tended to grow where birds had left their droppings. “Mistal” is an Anglo-Saxon word that means “dung” and “tan” means “twig,” so mistletoe actually means “dung on a twig.” But actually this is not the Mistletoes’ dispersal method of choice as actually the seed is very sticky and attaches to feathers and beaks of birds and fur of passing animals in order to be moved to a new place.