For over 100 years, Oklahoma's floral emblem has been a holiday parasite.

Everyone knows that if you get caught under the mistletoe around the holidays, you have to give someone a kiss. But did you know that mistletoe is actually a parasite? And it's been Oklahoma's floral emblem for 114 years.

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In February 1893, when Oklahoma was still just a territory, Territorial Governor John Sealy officially signed the bill into law that declared mistletoe as Oklahoma's floral emblem. According to 405 Magazine, during Oklahoma's frigid winter "mistletoe was a rare flash of color in a sea of gray."

Huge clumps perched high on the barren branches of trees, their waxy green leaves forming orbs as big as a bushel basket, some clusters weighing as much as 100 pounds. The mistletoe was used to decorate the graves of settlers that first winter in the former Unassigned Lands. The mistletoe represented Oklahoma Territory’s hardy spirit, appearing brightest when conditions looked grimmest.

What makes mistletoe a parasite?

Although mistletoe is often seen as festive, it's actually a parasitic plant. Mistletoe often grows on many ornamental, timber and crop trees - feeding off the tree's water and nutrients.


So why is mistletoe a prominent figure during the holidays?

According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, mistletoe is a key figure in the story of the Norse legend, Frigga, the goddess of love, and her son Balder, the god of innocence and light. She demanded that all creatures and objects swear not to harm him, but she forgot mistletoe. Loki, the god of evil and destruction, learned of this and used mistletoe to kill Balder.

Balder's death meant the death of sunlight, which eludes to long winter nights in the north. And Frigga's tears fell on the mistletoe and turned the berries white. She decreed that mistletoe should never be used for harm again, only peace and love, so those who were found standing under the mistletoe would receive a kiss of peace, event mortal enemies.


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