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Andalusian mistletoe

Andalusian mistletoe
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  • White is normally the colour you would associate with mistletoe berries, but the varieties found in Spain and Portugal are quite different

Mistletoe is a traditional Christmas plant that most people will be familiar with, even if it is not quite so popular as it once was.

It was originally hung in the home to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. In Norse mythology it was used as a sign of love or friendship which is probably where the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe came from.

Not all species have white berries, though. While we may be used to seeing these varieties, there are also species with pink, red or transparent berries.

If you have been looking out for mistletoe in Spain, you may well have missed it. That's because the native species here, found only in Andalucía and southern Portugal on the Iberian peninsula, is the Viscum cruciatum ('muérdago rojo' in Spanish) and it has red berries, not white, when ripe.