Mistletoe is the common name for Viscum album, a type of evergreen plant which grows high in the branches of trees and other plants. There are several different varieties including sub-tropical families, but the most common is the European mistletoe which is found across the continent.
Mistletoe has green leaves and small white berries, both of which are poisonous. It is, however, an important part of folklore – in ancient Europe, it was closely associated with male virility, romance and fertility. This is most likely what has caused the custom of kissing under mistletoe, a tradition which dates back in England to the 16th century. As it is an evergreen, mistletoe is commonly used as a decoration around Christmas time, and whenever a man and woman encounter one another below it they are supposed to exchange a kiss, the man plucking a berry from the branch. When no berries are left on the branch, the kiss is no longer obligatory for anyone who passes below it.
The annual Tenbury Wells Mistletoe Festival is a winter-time celebration of the plant.