Chuck Kleine Published


Edible Mountain - mistletoe.jpg

Mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum) is found in all 55 counties in West
Virginia. It grows high in the branches of hardwood trees and is considered semi-parasitic.

Sometimes called kiss and go, it pushes its root-like structures called haustoria
into tree branches, where it takes water and nutrients from the host tree.
It spreads to other tree tops by birds eating its white berries.

Young girl holding a wicker basket with mistletoe branches with

Oksana Schmidt –

Sounds like a freeloader, right? But some studies suggest that by
attracting more berry-eating birds, other berry-producing plants nearby
benefit as well, thus promoting higher diversities of berry-eating
animals and creating a much more diverse ecosystem overall.

Because it grows so high in trees, harvesting it can be tricky. Some
folks shoot it out of the tree and try to catch it. With a wholesale
market price of $10 per pound, a clump could bring in as much as $500.

All parts of the plant are toxic when ingested. While the bulk of poison
cases are children, no fatalities have been reported.That’s probably
one of the reasons why we hang it high and out of reach when used as
Christmas decor.


Picture Partners/Picture Partners – stock.adobe.c
Fresh mistletoe hanging on a red ribbon on white background

Mistletoe has a wealth of cultural references throughout history and
across the world.
Of course the one we all know and love is the tradition of meeting someone under the mistletoe and stealing a kiss.

But, per old Appalachian folklore, if you put mistletoe under your
pillow on Christmas, you’ll see the face of your true love while you


Edible Mountain is a bite-sized, digital series from WVPB that showcases
some of Appalachia’s overlooked and underappreciated products of the
forest while highlighting their mostly forgotten uses. The series
features experts, from botanists to conservationists, who provide
insight on how to sustainably forage these delicacies. It also explores
the preparation of these amazing delectables, something that many could
achieve in the home kitchen.