Mistletoe glut now, but maybe a future shortage

Two apparently conflicting stories about mistletoe in the media in the last few days – one about a glut of mistletoe, and one about a shortage.  Confused?  Well much of the media is, but actually there’s no conflict at all.

The ‘glut’ as reported in recent blogging and in several recent papers (the Observer and the Daily Telegraph 2 weeks ago and the Mail on Sunday today), is all to do with the abundance of berries this season – making all the female mistletoe that’s cropped very attractive and marketable.  After all, the sprigs need berries to allow kissing:  A berry should be removed, according to old traditions, for each kiss, so lots of berries = lots of kisses.  A glut is good, and we have a glut.  Definitely.

(Of course the male plants don’t have berries – a point which should be obvious, but one which I have to point out worryingly often!)

The ‘shortage’, as reported in, amongst others, yesterday’s Telegraph, relates to a developing crisis in mistletoe management – where the old apple trees that support most of the cropped mistletoe are either being lost as they grow old and die and aren’t replaced, or are becoming overgrown by unmanaged male mistletoe and dying before their time.  Which equates to a shortage in, say 20 year’s time.

Now maybe I’m a bit biased here, as I helped promote both these stories, but, er, why is this causing confusion? 

There’s a glut now and a probable longterm future shortage.  Easy isn’t it?  Maybe not – have a look at this distorted version of the story in Blatherskite, a news blog that claims to tell the ‘inside story’.  [Note to Blatherskite team: Could try harder on this one guys.]