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Mistletoe – Cambridge University

Mistletoe
Mistletoe in a tree

I photographed this mistletoe in the grounds of Churchill College at Cambridge University.

These trees are unusual in that I normally see the bundles of growth high up in tall trees.

Mistletoe grows as a parasite on host trees, which damages or kills the outer branches, reduces growth, and sometimes kills the host tree.

Mistletoe has had a symbolic meaning from at least as far back as the Celts in Britain. In the Christian tradition it is associated with Christmas and kissing under the mistletoe.

It is the Christian association that interests me because there are two locations where I have seen more mistletoe than anywhere else.

Those two places are Cambridge University and Oxford University.

Both institutions have strong religious associations in their origins, so my theory is that mistletoe was introduced and encouraged to grow because of its religious meaning, by members of the universities.

If anyone knows that to be the case (or not), I would be grateful to hear in the comments.

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