The National Trust Launches Campaign to Save Mistletoe This Christmas

By The National Trust, PRNE
Monday, December 13, 2010

SWINDON, England, December 14, 2010 - The National Trust is launching a new campaign to encourage people to
help secure the future of mistletoe in its heartland by buying sustainably
sourced home-grown mistletoe in the run up to Christmas and the season of
office parties. The campaign is also encouraging shoppers to ask where the
mistletoe they are buying has come from.

The heartland for mistletoe is Somerset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire
and Worcestershire, and this is where the plant is under threat as its main
habitat of traditional orchards have declined dramatically in the last sixty

Peter Brash, National Trust ecologist, is urging Britons to think about
where their mistletoe (
comes from: "Mistletoe
is part of our Christmas heritage and has a special place in a wonderful
winter landscape. It would be a sad loss if mistletoe disappeared all
together from its heartland.

"We could end up relying on imports of mistletoe from mainland Europe for
those festive kisses."

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant which is commonly found on fruit trees,
particularly domestic apple trees where it is relatively easy to harvest. It
can also be seen on other host trees such as lime, poplar and hawthorn across
a wider area of the UK. Mistletoe distribution is closely linked to that of
lightly managed, traditional orchards, with the most prolific mistletoe
growing areas being the South West and Midlands.

Traditional orchards have declined by at least sixty per cent since the
1950s (and by up to ninety per cent in Devon and Kent) and with them, an
important habitat for the plant. To help reverse this loss, the National
Trust and Natural England launched a project in 2009 to restore traditional
orchards, support small cottage industries producing cider and juices and
promote the growth of community run orchards.

Mistletoe expert Jonathan Briggs, explained: "Mistletoe benefits from
management. Unchecked, it will swamp its host tree and ultimately cause it to
die. Regular, managed cropping will ensure that the host tree remains
productive while ensuring that a healthy population of mistletoe will

If mistletoe became more inaccessible because of an ongoing decline of
traditional orchards and a loss of its main host, it may become more of a
premium product due to scarce supply.

Mistletoe also plays an important role in supporting wildlife, providing
winter food for birds like the blackcap and mistle thrush.

It also supports a total of six specialist insects including the scarce
mistletoe marble moth, some sap-sucking bugs and the affectionately named
'kiss me slow weevil' (Ixapion variegatum).

Peter Brash added: "Ensuring your mistletoe comes from a sustainably
managed, British source is good news all round. You will be supporting a
small home grown industry, while helping to ensure a future for mistletoe and
the creatures that are dependent upon it. You'll be kissing with a clear
conscience this Christmas."

About the National Trust:

The National Trust is one of the most important nature conservation
organisations in Europe with over 1,000 sites covering 250,000 hectares,
including coastal sites, woodland and upland areas; many of which are rich in
wildlife. All 17 species of UK bat have been recorded as roosting or breeding
on National Trust land and 96 per cent of all resident UK butterflies can be
found on our land. Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire is the most species rich site
and 93 per cent of the land has been surveyed for its nature conservation

The National Trust offers a range of activities such as winter walks,
cycle paths, historical gardens, Christmas events
and Christmas fairs. (

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    For further press information and images please contact:

    Mike Collins
    Senior Press Officer
    The National Trust
    Kemble Drive
    SN2 2NA

Mike Collins, Senior Press Officer, The National Trust, Heelis, Kemble Drive, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN2 2NA, +44(0)1793-817708

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