(Letter to the Editor)

  Menacing plant with an intriguing past

Danger lurks under pernicious plant.

   Of all the plants used in holiday decor, few match mistletoe’s interesting history. And few equal its potential for harm

  An evergreen plant with white berries, mistletoe is quite toxic, said David Trinklein, horticulture state specialist for University of Missouri Extension.

  American mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum) contains a toxic protein in its leaves and branches. However, mistletoe harvested in the U.S. isn’t as toxic as European mistletoe (Viscum album), Trinklein said. The latter contains a mixture of toxic proteins in all parts of the plant, including its berries.

Unfortunately, mistletoe isn’t usually labeled “American” or “European,” and only a trained botanist would be able to identify the difference, he said. In either case, if the plant accidentally is ingested it would be wise to seek immediate medical attention.

  Trinklein said the safest choice would be to use artificial mistletoe made from fabric or plastic.

See more in this weeks Boone County Journal