All About Thyme
  A Weekly Calendar of Times & Seasonings

  Celebrating the Mysteries, Magic, and Myths of Herbs
Susan Wittig Albert  
Special Feature, December 3, 2018  


At Thyme and Seasons, I buy mistletoe from a local supplier and Laurel and I package it in plastic bags tied with festive holiday ribbons. During the Christmas season, we process hundreds of mail and telephone and email orders for the herb, which grows in basketball-sized clumps on the hackberry and pecan trees in the wooded hills to the west of Pecan Springs. Once you've seen those fresh yellow-green leaves and translucent berries, glowing like huge pearls, you can understand why our mistletoe is so popular.

Mistletoe Man: A China Bayles Mystery

North American mistletoe (Phoradendron tomentosum) does not belong to the same genus as the European mistletoe (Viscum album), but the legends and lore of the European plant long ago made their way to America. In fact, this evergreen herb that seems to miraculously grow in trees has spread its magic across many different cultures. Here's some fascinating mistletoe information I gathered when I was doing research for the China Bayles mystery, Mistletoe Man:

  • Norwegian peasants hung mistletoe from the rafters of their homes to protect against lightning.
  • In Wales, mistletoe gathered on Midsummer Eve was placed under the pillow at Yule-tide to induce prophetic dreams.
  • In northern Europe, mistletoe was thought to act as a master key that would open any lock.
  • Swedish farmers hung mistletoe in the horse's stall and the cow's crib, to protect against evil trolls. They also used the wood to make divining rods.
  • Everywhere, people enjoy kissing under the mistletoe.

Read Susan's three Christmas-season mysteries:

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Who's Susan Albert?

Susan Wittig Albert is the author of two recent memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days and Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place. Her fiction, which has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, includes A Wilder Rose (a novel about Rose Wilder Lane's collaboration with Laura Ingalls Wilder in the writing of the Little House books); the China Bayles mysteries; the Darling Dahlias mysteries; the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter; and a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries written with her husband, Bill Albert, under the pseudonym of Robin Paige. She is founder and past president of the Story Circle Network, a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, and Honorary President (2012-2014) of the Herb Society of America. More

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Who's China Bayles?

She's the beloved fictional herbalist in Susan Wittig Albert's popular mystery series, set in Pecan Springs TX. For more about her books, visit

For more about herbs and the passing seasons, read China Bayles' Book of Days.

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