thoughtsHolly vs. Mistletoe

In our modern society, so far removed from nature, people often make mistakes that would have been unthinkable a few centuries ago - like confusing holly and mistletoe. Both are plants, both bear tiny inedible berries, and both are used as decoration around December. Those are the only things they have in common. Somehow, people get them mixed up, usually hanging holly as mistletoe, and attempting (improperly!) to kiss beneath it.

Thus, as a public service, I'm now going to attempt to explain the differences between the two organisms in such a fashion that you never get them confused again. And, as high school science class has taught me, the best way to do so is with snappy little rhymes.

Pay attention, now.

Berries of white, kissing's alright.
Berries of red get you hit in the head.

There, isn't that easy?

Berries of red, used as a hedge.
Berries of white, it's a parasite.

Hmm... red and hedge is a debatable rhyme. Regardless, we press on!

Leaves are round, affection abounds.
Leaves are spiked, so's the punch.

Wait, no.

Sticky and pale, gives you a rash.
Waxy and crimson, makes you toss your cookies.

Right, that one was just for fun. I can do better. Give me a chance, here.

If it acts as a vampire, kissing it will inspire.
If from the ground it gets its nutrition, it's just decoration.

I'm just getting started, here, folks.

White mistletoe, you're good to go.
But if berries are red, you'll get sued for sexual harassment instead.

Okay, I've got rhyme, now to work on meter... maybe if I mix it up with a limerick....

There once was a garland of red,
Who rustled his spikes and said:
"Though I'm decoration,
I can't cause affection,
I wish I were mistletoe instead."

I think we're onto something, here.

Traditional antidote for poison
Though most have an allergic reaction
The druids don't care
They're too busy shar-
-ing a kiss to compile reliable medical information."

I should've worked the death of Baldur in there, somehow. Alright, how about some haiku?

Crimson berries thrive
In winter's frosty embrace
No kissing here, please.

Mistletoe drains life,
Drinking sap from the oak,
A token of love?

Big showstopping number!

The holly looked up t'ward the tree,
"How do you do it?", said he.
"You drain sap like a vampire,
yet folks say you inspire
far more kisses than me."

The mistletoe softly replied,
"Though I wear white like a bride,
It's your red berries
that make people merry,
Mine's a minor tradition beside."

Okay, that's about as good as it's going to get, here. I hope we've all got it straight, now:

Holly has red berries and pointy leaves.


Mistletoe has white berries and round leaves.


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