Updated 12/23/2011 06:14 PM
Mistletoe shortage threatens holiday romance
Harsh weather in parts of the U.S. is putting a damper on a much-loved holiday tradition. As our Tamara Lindstrom tells us, this year it may be harder than ever to steal that holiday kiss.
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ITHACA, N.Y. -- It's a holiday tradition that warms winter nights.
"Once in a while, we'll get it in fresh. A lot of people will buy it to hang in their homes so they can get kissed," said Doreen Culver-Foss, owner of Bool's Flower Shop in Ithaca.
But this year, the quest for that kiss won't be so easy, with much of the country's mistletoe destroyed.
"The droughts in Texas and in the mid-south had a tremendous impact on the survival of the trees on which mistletoe grows and as a result of that, the mistletoe itself," said George Hudler, a plant pathologist at Cornell University.
The whimsical plant is already hard to come by. But to some, it's no great loss.
"It's hard to get. They don't really have it on the market that much," Culver-Foss said. "It doesn't hold up that well and when it comes in, it isn't an overly attractive plant. So when people see it, they don't necessarily want it even though they think they want it."
And that sprig of green that hangs over the holidays has far less romantic roots.
"Mistletoe is a parasitic plant," Hudler said. "It has a modified root system that grows right down into the wood of its host trees. And it depends exclusively on those host trees for the water and nutrients it needs to grow."
But if you're bent on securing that special foliage and the preserved kind just won't do...
"People go out into a state forest or maybe their small own woodlot and they actually shoot the mistletoe out of the trees," Hudler said.
A holiday chore made for lovers.