Talk:Viscum album

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Having looked up the reference

Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). The Illustrated Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0340401702.

I can only note:

  1. By its nature (a tertiary source, in condensed form, for a very limited geographic area) this book is not very suitable as a reference
  2. It does not contain the taxonomy that it is claimed to contain.

Brya 16:19, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

The information given is compiled from the three different references cited, not from just one. - MPF 13:42, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
Right and if you put on a cardboard crown that will make you the king of England as "man + crown = king". The references provided cover Europe (assuming three subspecies there in the taxonomy used in that work) and China (assuming one subspecies there in the taxonomy used in that work). This adds up to a lower limit of two subspecies and no upper limit. Basing the present text on the references provided is guesswork at best. Brya 15:39, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
No, it adds up to four named subspecies, which are clearly distinguished. How on earth do you get the mathematics 3 + 1 = 2???
I've added another ref which confirms the total range of the species as already described from the previous refs. If you are aware of additional details and references, please add them, instead of continuously complaining about what is already written. - MPF 16:13, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
I can only express my amazement of such a degree of ignorance. A taxonomic treatment is only relevant for the area described and the plants considered. Subspecies are not chemical elements but are relative to the judgement of those taxonomists drawing up the treatment. It is quite common that a subsequent treatment regards the subspecies of a previous treatment as species or varieties. It would be nothing out of the ordinary if recognizing meridianum as a subspecies is only possible when using a concept of the species that precludes any other subspecies. The previous subspecies would then be species or varieties, or not worth recognizing at all. In referring to the Flora of China you establish a minimum of two subspecies (note the the FoC does not give a species description, detailing how many subspecies there might be in the species as a whole). On the evidence presented there is no reason to suppose there might not be five or six subspecies (I would not be surprised if there might be up to twenty in some views), or as little as two. What is in the article now is pure conjecture. Brya 06:23, 14 July 2006 (UTC)
You seem to be ignoring the Flora Europaea reference which accepts three subspecies. That the Flora of China does not mention these extralimital subspecies other than the type is immaterial; the two accounts are not inconsistent with each other and can very reasonably be taken together. You have been invited to provide additional references which give additional information or a different viewpoint, but have not done so; from this I conclude that no such contradiction exists, or if it does, you are not aware of it either. There is no evidence at all for your conjecture of five or six, or up to twenty, subspecies.
By the way, your adding the {Unreferencedsect} is totally inappropriate. It is referenced. If or when a monograph of the species is ever published (or if it is already, when someone obtains details of it), then that can be added, but until it is, the page is reasonably based on the available references. - MPF 12:12, 14 July 2006 (UTC)
You are clearly ignoring everything that wikipedia is saying about verifiability. When you are presenting a taxonomy not commonly accepted, the burden of proof is on you. As you indicate that the taxonomy you are presenting has been drawn up ("compiled") by you this is original research. It does not matter if I can disprove this. It does not matter if it is not explicitly disproved by the references provided. It is upon you to provide a reference for this (so far unreferenced) taxonomy. Brya 06:17, 17 July 2006 (UTC)
Nonsense. Original research means if I go out, collect some mistletoe, and describe it as a new taxon in wikipedia. What I have done is derived research, derived from several sources, which is not only permitted, but encouraged. References are provided. - MPF 11:33, 17 July 2006 (UTC)
Right. You were pushing a taxonomy which was not found in any reference you could produce but which was not original research, as you had compiled it personally. I am glad to see you have stopped pushing your own original taxonomy, although "are commonly accepted" is firmly into the category of weasel words. Brya 19:12, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
As to your statement that "the two accounts are not inconsistent with each other" this to is immaterial: it is upon you to prove that they are consistent in their treatment of Viscum album. Brya 06:17, 17 July 2006 (UTC)
No, that is not necessary. I am writing an account for an encyclopaedia, which is (and should be) based on references, not a formal monograph on the species (which of course should include original research, and is therefore not suitable here). I have included what is in the references, no more, no less. - MPF 11:33, 17 July 2006 (UTC)
It is the other way about. You were publishing a new monograph (indeed unsuitable here) and passed it off as an account for an encyclopedia. Brya 19:12, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
I can only suggest you stop violating basic wikipedia policies. Brya 06:17, 17 July 2006 (UTC)
Deletion of referenced information, as you have done, violates basic wikipedia policies. The only time it can be done is when additional reference is provided which demonstrates the previous information is superseeded. - MPF 11:33, 17 July 2006 (UTC)
Quote from the verifiability page
1. Articles should contain only material that has been published by reputable sources.
2. Editors adding new material to an article should cite a reputable source, or it may be removed by any editor.
3. The obligation to provide a reputable source lies with the editors wishing to include the material, not on those seeking to remove it.
You still have not cited a source for the taxonomy you put in, and the reference that you specifically claimed as containing this taxonomy proved not to contain anything near it. This was either a deliberate lie or proof that you must be even more deficient in mental capacity than I had thought. Brya 19:12, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
Edit summary by Brya: "cleanup, removing unreferenced original research taxonomy, removing cluttered description at variance with Flora Europaea, reducing self-aggrandizing picture to proper size"
As pointed out, it is neither original research, nor unreferenced. The description is from several sources (as are all the descriptions I write for wikipedia, so far as is possible); if it had been verbatim from Flora Europaea (which by inference is all you are willing to accept), it would be breach of copyright. - MPF 11:33, 17 July 2006 (UTC)
You had introduced the Flora Europaea as a creditable reference. The fact that you cannot stand a direct quote from the reference you had introduced yourself indicates that you had no position whatsoever. As you have firmly established being totally unreasonable I suppose I will leave the page as it is, and hope the reader will recognize the initials MPF and the level of error that entails. Brya 19:12, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

After having spent seven years researching mistletoes in general and Viscum album in particular I am amazed at this discussion. Providing a taxonomy (=list of names [or definitions]) is never original research, which is providing a new description of a taxon (and thus adding a new name to the taxonomy). How many parts any taxon may be divided into (and how these should be recognised) is entirely up to the systematist. As this wikipedia-page is not stating any prefered system for Viscum album it is perfectly fine and well referenced (at least regarding to taxonomy). The above comments relates to the common confusion regarding the differences between taxonomy and systematics - two different branches of science (eventhough dependent upon each other)...

Number of seeds?[edit]

it says "the fruit is a white or yellow berry containing several seeds...".

All the viscum album berries ive squished have only ever had a single seed in them. Is the seed number variable? Cheers.

The "normal" number of seeds in Viscum album is usually 1, but the flower has several carpels and thus more seeds can be produced. However, the mistletoes usually only let one carpel mature and abort the development of the others resulting in the "normal" single seed. (talk) 18:25, 7 March 2008 (UTC)


The page currently says: "The toxic lectin Viscumin has been isolated from Viscum album.[7]" The link leads to a PDF "Isolation and characterization of viscumin, a toxic lectin from Viscum album L. (mistletoe)".

"Viscum Album L." ((Loranthaceae) however is not listed on this page. Actually, I see it in reference # 6 "Notes on the Cretan mistletoe, Viscum album subsp. creticum subsp. nova (Loranthaceae/Viscaceae)". Is it a Cretan sub-species ?
Here's a list of queries:-
1. why is it not listed in the page ?
2. why did the editor not indicate which sub-species when talking about toxicity?
3. why is the herb freely available for purchase in chemists in Germany ?

Does finding it in one sub-species indicate it is in all - presumably there's a good possibility (if the others havent been researched). Thanks for any help, Tom Tomosullivan (talk) 12:15, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

The source you refer to as 7, now listed as 8, specifies its source in the title as Viscum album L. The Materials and methods section simply states mistletoe grown on maple. There is no mention of the Cretan subspecies. The author did not mention a subspecies because he was dealing with the main European species. Mistletoe is freely available in orchards, parks and gardens in the area of Europe where it occurs, and is sold to the public to use as Christmas decorations for their homes. It is not so toxic that it poses much risk unless a large quantity of the berries are eaten. Plantsurfer (talk) 10:16, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
Ricin's sulfide bridges break at temps above 80C. When the bridges break the active site of the enzyme is ruined. Unlike other proteins the sulfide bridge is needed to regenerate the active site of the enzyme and when it breaks the protein is readily denatures and misfolds into a non-active form. Boling ricin will destroy it. (talk) 02:03, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
If you can provide a source for that, perhaps it should be added to the Ricin article, but how is it relevant here? Plantsurfer (talk) 10:16, 17 May 2013 (UTC)

Unreferenced claims about Scandinavian legend[edit]

The following sentences were taken from the Mistletoe article. They were unreferenced there; if they are confirmed, they may be added to the article.

Frigg was heartbroken. She decreed that that mistletoe would never be used again as a weapon and that she would place a kiss on anyone who passed under it. So now we hang mistletoe underneath our doors during the holidays, so that we will never overlook it again.[citation needed]

--Jorge Stolfi (talk) 00:27, 21 September 2014 (UTC)

Why do we kiss under the mistletoe?[edit]

(This section was moved here from the Talk:Mistletoe page. --Jorge Stolfi (talk) 02:45, 21 September 2014 (UTC))

Q Rich Farmbrough 14:55, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)

A "According to a custom of Christmas cheer, any two people who meet under a hanging of mistletoe are obliged to kiss. The origin of this custom may be related to the story of Baldur coming back to life because of his mother Frigga (or Frigg), the goddess of love who removed the mistletoe's poison with her tears. When Baldur came back to life she kissed everyone who passed underneath the mistletoe out of happiness and gratitude and thus started the custom." --Jojje 14:08, 1 November 2006 (UTC)

Do you have a source for this story? Also, I think you may have confused Frigg and Freyja.

I agree. To my understanding, this is wrong, as Baldur stayed dead until Ragnarok because Loki did not cry for him, which broke the deal between Frigg and Hel. --- Thesis4Eva 16:53, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

Properly speaking every time someone is kissed under the mistletoe a berry should be removed. When the berries are all gone then the kissing has to stop.

This story seems extremely unlikely to me - if this were true then surely the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe would have originated in Scandinavia rather than Britain. I always understood that the tradition originated from an ancient fertility rite - the plant is in fruit at the winter solstice i.e. birth of the new year (and the berries contain a semen like fluid). The links given in the article mention this as the origin albeit with the possibility of the rite actually being invented by Druids in the 16th century. twitter 09:42, 22 January 2007 (UTC)

But not all Mistletoe has berries. Honda Enoch (talk) 21:59, 19 December 2009 (UTC)


(This section was moved here from the Talk:Mistletoe page. --Jorge Stolfi (talk) 02:45, 21 September 2014 (UTC))

Is there an attribution for this superstition? I suspect this recent edit was cribbed from the less-recent Tooth and Claw (Doctor Who) by Russell T Davies, who I suspect made it up. For one thing it's justified within the plot, for another I've never heard of it.

If I'm wrong, sorry.

This link gives a little detail, but not very much - MPF 23:55, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

Baldr story[edit]

(This section was moved here from the Talk:Mistletoe page. --Jorge Stolfi (talk) 02:45, 21 September 2014 (UTC))

Wasn't Mistletoe the wood that was used to kill Baldr? Noteworthy, no? (talk) 06:40, 23 December 2009 (UTC)

Yep - it is under Mistletoe#In culture and mythology. - 2/0 (cont.) 06:48, 23 December 2009 (UTC)

This page says Balder dies and come back to like because of Frigga. Whereas the article on Balder says that he wasn't allowed to come back to life... So which is it? I personally thought you kissed under the mistletoe because it had the pretty red berries through the winter and you kissed under it because it symbolized "eventual rebirth in spring", like the other evergreens. But *shrugs* I don't know if I'm right or not.(Unsigned comment)

You're absolutely right... I have no idea where the author got this, but in the extant norse mythology Baldr is not a god of vegitation and he isn't revived until Ragnarok... The author may be confusing some contemporary work with the mythology. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:39, 6 May 2010 (UTC)
Unless some citation appears for this "Baldr ressurection" story, it should be removed. -- (talk) 01:05, 15 May 2010 (UTC)

Berries are not red[edit]

(This section was moved here from the Talk:Mistletoe page. --Jorge Stolfi (talk) 02:45, 21 September 2014 (UTC))

The berries are not red and the tradition in the article is linked to the vitality of the sap of the berry. (Unsigned comment)

Semen equates to paganism?[edit]

(This section was moved here from the Talk:Mistletoe page. --Jorge Stolfi (talk) 02:45, 21 September 2014 (UTC))

I'm not sure that equating mistletoe's content to having "strengthened its pagan connections" is appropriate. Popular culture does tend to err on the side of promiscuity when it comes to paganism by exaggerating any emphasis on fertility, and twisting it to an emphasis on sexuality. This comment got my fur bristling a little, I suppose, since it came out of left field. Can anyone provide a valid citation? It is currently lacking one.

--MyGreensAreEaten (talk) 05:29, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

Extremely Homophobic Article![edit]

(This section was moved here from the Talk:Mistletoe page. --Jorge Stolfi (talk) 02:45, 21 September 2014 (UTC))

This article mentions that men might have the opportunity to kiss young girls should they meet under the mistletoe. This not only sexist but it is also homophobic. There is NOTHING wrong with a woman wanting to kiss another woman when they meet under the Mistletoe and there is also absolutely nothing with two men meeting under the mistletoe and kissing each other as well. This article is extremely Christian-centric and condescending towards females and the entire LGBTQ community. It is the great pain that this often unwanted Christian-centric attitude has caused suffering among many diverse groups of people worldwide! I would think Wikipedia would want its readers to be as diverse as the articles they wish to be on this site. (talk) 10:12, 21 December 2010 (UTC)

WP:RS, WP:SOFIXIT. --Curtis Clark (talk) 14:35, 22 December 2010 (UTC)
The article has now been rewritten to meet with 21st century PC standards, and in doing so has introduced error. It was not custom for 'any two people' to kiss under the mistletoe; it was tradition for a man and a woman to kiss. Do not forget that, rightly or wrongly, homosexuality was regarded with horror for centuries - it was a sin, and I cannot stress how importnat the idea of sin was in the past - and we are only recently overcoming this predjudice. You cannot impose modern standards on what went on in the past: revisionism, now matter how well meant, is not historical truth. The idea of women kissing women or men kissing men being acceptable in the past is a nonsense. Sorry, but that's just the way it was. I shall alter the article to reflect the historical truth. (talk) 11:10, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

Harvesting techniques and cultivation[edit]

(This section was moved here from the Talk:Mistletoe page. --Jorge Stolfi (talk) 02:45, 21 September 2014 (UTC))

Information on the cultivation of mistletoe is needed. How is it grown, where, and in what quantities compared to the naturally harvested supply? [1] has some information on how it is harvested from forests - either by shooting it down or climbing up. Coverage of harvesting techniques should also be added to the article. -- Beland (talk) 18:29, 16 January 2011 (UTC)


I am parking this text here from a recent revision. It looks more NPOV than what is left behind if one examines the sources.


Mistletoe leaves and young twigs are used by herbalists, and it is popular in Europe, especially in Germany, for treating circulatory and respiratory system problems.[22][23][24] Use of mistletoe extract in the treatment of cancer originated with Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy. He compared the parasitic nature of the mistletoe plant to that of cancer, and believed that cancer represents a faltering of the body's spiritual defenses.[25][26] Some anthroposophical mistletoe preparations are diluted homeopathically. Mistletoe extract is sold as Iscador, Helixor, and several other trade names.[25]

A Cochrane review of mistletoe's effect in cancer was performed in 2008. The authors found:

The majority of the included trials reported benefits for patients treated with mistletoe extracts in one or more outcome measures. However, most trials were found to have major methodological drawbacks that raise doubts about the validity and generalizability of the findings and there is no clear evidence for the superiority of one preparation or treatment schedule over another.

— Horneber M. Mistletoe therapy in oncology. Cochrane Database Of Systematic Reviews [serial online]. March 27, 2014;(3) Thus the Cochrane report remained inconclusive about claims of anti-cancer effect, quality of life, or other outcomes from the use of mistletoe extract though they did find moderate evidence that mistletoe therapy improved quality of life in breast cancer. Edzard Ernst, a vocal critic of alternative therapies, had concluded in his earlier 2003 meta analysis that research has shown little or no improvement in rigorous trials. [25][27][28] Public interest in the United States was spurred in 2001 following actress Suzanne Somers' decision to use Iscador in lieu of chemotherapy following her treatment for breast cancer using surgery and radiotherapy.[29][30]

Findings from over 50 clinical trials using mistletoe extracts in patients with cancer have been published. Recent reviews of many studies taken together have looked at the effects of mistletoe on quality of life, survival, and symptom relief in different types of cancer:

Quality of life was measured in a review that included 26 randomized clinical trials. Of these, 22 trials showed patients had improved quality of life. All 10 nonrandomized, controlled clinical trials reviewed also reported the same benefits. Chemotherapy-related fatigue, nausea and vomiting, depression, emotional well-being, and concentration improved. Some of the studies were well designed, while others had weaknesses.[31]

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Chickpecking (talkcontribs) 23:55, 8 December 2015 (UTC)

No it doesn't. This is anyway an article about mistletoe and not anthroposophic medicine, so having a large section here is WP:UNDUE. What we do have should at least be in WP:SYNC with our main content on anthroposophic medicine. Finally, as an editor with a potential COI you should be treading carefully. Alexbrn (talk) 03:03, 9 December 2015 (UTC)
I have no COI- I am not paid by or in any financial relationship with mistletoe, iscador, or AM, but thank you for the welcome wagon. For disclosure I am interested in mistletoe's anticancer properties. I am a physician and graduate of public health. I am working towards certification in Anthroposophical medicine. Currently wikipedia views alternative med practitioners as not in COI if posting about alternative med-Alexbrn I believe you would know that as you were involved in the discussions about this yourself. Friend, I am seeing a lot of attack the source, instead of the argument here. I will continue to be bold, per wikipedia's suggestions. I will also continue to use rational argument and good citation of text. Perhaps you are correct about the mistletoe as medicine needing its own page. I do believe the edits you have left veer from NPOV.Chickpecking (talk) 04:14, 9 December 2015 (UTC)
COIs are not just FCOIs (financial ones), and to be accurate the community is undecided on whether altmed practitioners have a COI for their products, which is why I referred to a "potential" COI. In any case, the point is that this is a mistletoe article - it should be focused on the plant, not details of anthroposophic medicine treatment efficacy. That would be a WP:COATRACK. Also your edit in which you claimed that a Cochrane review found "moderate evidence that mistletoe therapy improved quality of life in breast cancer" is a cherry-picked skew of the source's conclusion (which is actually that this research "needs replication"); and your omission of more recent quality sourcing on this matter - which you know exists, and which you know is very negative ... and which in fact you removed - adds up to your edit not faithfully representing current medical knowledge, but unduly boosting your own field. Alexbrn (talk) 04:52, 9 December 2015 (UTC)
Could we see if you have a COI too? You seem to have quite a slant against alternative therapies and focus quite a bit of effort on negative spinning those articles. I will not speculate, just an observation. The only negative meta-analysis I know of is dated by the Cochrane review (I am assuming you mean Ernst's 2006 review, which I did mention, and as it comes from a known to be biased source, I commented on the source appropriately), and I am familiar with many other positive reviews. Indeed, I am working on a summary of all the meta analysis and reviews- and a NPOV discussion thereof. I would highly value your contributions. If you know of another negative meta-analysis, please let me know, it would be important to my work. But you may do so on my talk page. If you would prefer to make the quotations from the cochrane less cherry picked, you are also free to edit wikipedia. I am game to add "but these results need replication" to the cochrane quote.Chickpecking (talk) 05:42, 9 December 2015 (UTC)
I have no COI: medicine is not my field. I am interested in writing good articles by including & faithfully representing appropriate sources. The evidence here is that you misrepresented one source and deleted a very strong MEDRS source from the American Cancer Society. Alexbrn (talk) 05:51, 9 December 2015 (UTC)
Good to hear. I think that in cochrane and other meta analysis vs ACS, cochrane would trump, as that should be where the ACS gets their opinion, and ACS seems to have over-summarized and ended up inaccurate, but we can discuss elsewhere.Chickpecking (talk) 20:52, 9 December 2015 (UTC)
Well, a misrepresented version of Cochrane does not "trump" anything, except accurate information. But as you well know we also have the NIH, a 2015 MEDRS source that dismisees this therapy. This all smells very fishy. Alexbrn (talk) 20:58, 9 December 2015 (UTC)
Disagree about misrepresented vs better represented. NIH says something more complicated (and disputable by other MEDRS) than what you are relaying. Let's continue discussing in more appropriate forum, though I think the medicine part can be more accurately summarized. Cheers Chickpecking (talk) 14:59, 10 December 2015 (UTC)