1st Mistletoe Auction 2010

A light covering of snow on the mistletoe and holly lots at today’s auctions in Tenbury Wells.

This was the first auction of this season (there’re two more – on the 7th and the 14th) and also the first at the new site – the disused part of Tenbury Business Park.

The cold weather seemed to jam up my DSLR camera for a while, so I haven’t got many pics of the earliest visitors – members of the druid Mistletoe Foundation, who came to bless this year’s crop.

Here’s one of them after the main event, sprinkling the blessing water amongst the lots.


The site seemed to work well – despite the snow (there weren’t many problems getting cars in and out of the snow covered car park field).

Good turn-out, everything sold very efficiently and quickly, and lots of media interest too – BBC TV Regional News, S4C filming for a later mistletoe feature on Welsh TV, plus regional newspapers.

Most of the usual buyers, sellers, hangers-on too – the auctions bring together a rather odd group of people who only ever meet here – never in-between.

I didn’t monitor the prices – so haven’t been able to answer the various queries since about the state of the market!  I’ll try and get some data on this soon – expectations were that wholesale mistletoe prices would be low – as the crop is well-berried again this year – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that high street prices are low .

Some more pics below:

Very cold mistletoe

Well, it looks like a rather chilly mistletoe season this year.  Have already been out at the crack of dawn for a photographer who wanted mistletoe harvesting in frost, and am expecting more early morning mistletoe encounters this week.

That recent frosty photo-call was at Day’s Cottage orchards in Gloucestershire, where Dave Kasper was harvesting for Gloucestershire markets.  Rod Kirkpatrick‘s frosty photos made the Daily Telegraph and the Western Daily Press on Saturday – I’ll try and get one of them from him to post up here.  The pic below isn’t one of his, it’s just to show, er, frosty mistletoe.

From this week and through December I’ll be blogging more regularly, as there are quite a few mistletoey things to report on this year – some entirely new, though a few others may be more familiar.

Topics will include conservation, mistletoe insects, does mistletoe have a scent, mistletoe management, online sales, importing mistletoe past and present, where do you get yours, mistletoe tea, mistletoe decor, all in the context of the ancient, long-standing traditions of mistletoe.  Plus news about the Tenbury Wells Mistletoe  Festival and Auctions of course.

Mistletoe Questionnaire:
Please take part in our new ‘Mistletoe: Where do you get yours’ questionnaire.  It only takes a few minutes, and will help future mistletoe management by providing information on where and how people obtain mistletoe.  Click here to take part.

Mistletoe Book (this is an ad):

And whilst you’re browsing mistletoe stuff why not have a look at my mistletoe book – A little book about Mistletoe obtainable online here

New season, new survey

Accurate data and statistics on the mistletoe trade, and on how people use mistletoe, are very difficult to come by.

So, this season we’re launching a Consumer Survey about Mistletoe.  It’s not been done before, and results could be interesting!

It’s being called “Mistletoe: Where do you get yours?” and a survey homepage has been set up at www.british.mistletoe.org.uk . Results will be posted up weekly from the first week of December onwards.  Here’s the blurb from there:

The survey, which should only take a few minutes to complete, collects information on where you get your Christmas mistletoe, and how you use it. We’d even like to know if you use the plastic imitation! 

This survey has been organised to help farmers, orchard managers and others assess our current use of mistletoe – this information should help plan future mistletoe conservation, management and harvesting.

The survey is UK-based, so might not be quite relevant if you live elsewhere.

Survey hosted by the

Mistletoe Crop and Mistletoe Prices

Have been responding to a few media enquiries about this year’s mistletoe crop.

It’s looking fairly good so far – lots of berries on the female plants, just turning fully white now.  So there’ll be a lot of good quality material out there.    That doesn’t mean there’s “‘lots of mistletoe” though.  Just lots of berries on the mistletoe. A “bumper crop” for mistletoe usually means a good quality (e.e. well-berried) crop, not a larger amount.

And we’re getting a few stories about prices being cheap too.  Which may be correct, but as the main auction markets haven’t happened yet that’s just speculation so far.  But that’s the wholesale price, not the retail price.   The retail price usually stays about the same, whatever the wholesale price, as profit margins on mistletoe are very small and the main costs are in transport and packaging, and those stay the same whatever the raw material price..

So if you read in a newspaper that a bumper crop means your mistletoe will be cheap this year, don’t believe it. Unless you’re a wholesaler of course…

Media + Mistletoe = usual crop of nonsense

Silly season definitely here now.  The Daily Mail is reporting a bumper crop of mistletoe because of a resurgence of interest in cider-drinking – specifically Bulmers and Magners.  Their tenuous link is that cider is made from apples, and most mistletoe grows on apple trees. Both true statements of course.   But, er, no, there’s no cause and effect here.

Mistletoe grows in profusion in old neglected, mature apple orchards.  Bulmers and Magners harvest from managed, often new, often ‘bush’ orchards.  No mistletoe there, sorry.

And even if there has been a new apple tree planting to fuel the cider demand (as reported by the Mail) the lead time from mistletoe establishment to a crop is at least 6-10 years, and that’s AFTER the host-tree is semi-mature, so if there is, ever, a link here, the ‘new’ mistletoe won’t be available to harvest until at least 15 years AFTER the cider boom.

But why let facts get in the way of a story – this is the Daily Mail after all…

More on the real issues behind the mistletoe harvest available here soon!

Mistletoe book ordering now online

Well, it’s taken a while to finalise, but here’s the ordering info for the new book – A little book about Mistletoe:

We’re publishing this first edition through lulu.com, and so that’s probably the best place to buy it.  Though we will be handling a small stock at the English Mistletoe Shop too.

The lulu ordering page is here.  Or you go direct to a preview here.

The English Mistletoe Shop ordering page is here.