9% “still pick mistletoe”. Really??

According to a recent poll 9% of Brits still pick mistletoe.  Which sounds good and reassuring for us mistletoe promotors – except that I don’t believe it for a moment.  9% hang it up – ok, 9% pick it?  No.

This is the same poll, reported in many papers (eg the Telegraph, the Metro), that claims 65% of Brits have champagne breakfasts on Christmas Day – which many commentators have pointed out seems unlikely.

1990sdistributionBut why don’t I believe the mistletoe figure?  Well, mistletoe is fairly rare over most of the country (see dotmap left) – virtually unknown in Scotland Wales and Northern England, and in most of the SE and extreme SW.  Where it does occur in those areas most is either on limes in parks (and therefore unreachable) or in a few private gardens (and therefore unavailable).  It’s only common on low-growing trees in Somerset, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire – but do those areas represent 9% of the population?  Maybe, I s’pose, though I doubt it.  And do people in these areas really go and pick it – it’s still all on private land – and it’s much easier to simply buy it. 

And would they have been surveyed evenly across the country – could all the "9%" simply be from this area?  The survey, by UKTV and championed by their chef Brian Turner  was apparently only 3000 adults, and I suspect most were more south-easterly than mistletoe country.  So why would they say they still pick mistletoe – if they don’t?  Well, maybe they like to think they do, maybe they mean they pick plastic mistletoe from Woolworths, or maybe they simply don’t know what mistletoe is (do a google image search on mistletoe and you’ll find a depressing number of results are actually holly… ).

Difficult to find out more on this survey – despite all the media coverage there’s nothing on the UKTV  website…

Perhaps it’s simple bit of spin – the question might have been ‘do you hang mistletoe up each year’ – and I’m sure more than 9% do this – but maybe in the news release about the results this was simply re-written as ‘pick’?  Sounds more romantic and back-to nature that way.  I will investigate… 

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