Mistletoe shortage thwarts Christmas kisses

A mistletoe shortage across North America has followed dry conditions in the southern U.S, leaving many families without a romantic holiday tradition in their homes.

Traditional leaves a scarce commodity for households this December

Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert gives Martha Stewart a kiss under the mistletoe ball they crafted together as he visited The Martha Stewart Show in New York. (Anders Krusberg/The Martha Stewart Show/Associated Press)

A longtime holiday tradition of kisses under the mistletoe has been withered by drought.

A mistletoe shortage has followed dry conditions in the southern U.S., especially Texas, according to flower shops.

Ottawa father Jean Plamondon spent all week in search of the small parasitic plant, which grows on trees in humid climates in Europe and the U.S.

"I've got two young kids, so I just wanted them to be in the full spirit of Christmas," he said.

He found some mistletoe, finally, at the Bel Fiore flower shop on Elgin Street in downtown Ottawa. It cost him a pretty penny, though, for a small amount.

"I've been selling this for $25," store owner Minoo Banaei told Plamondon, who still chose to buy the store's last mistletoe in desperation.

Pricey commodity

Banaei said stores like hers had an extremely difficult time trying to find mistletoe this Christmas, as it was a scarce commodity.

"I called three suppliers and two of them just laughed at me," she said. "The third said it would be expensive, but he tried. He ended up importing it from Europe."

For Plamondon, mistletoe romance is an essential part of Christmas in his home.

"So we've got the tree and the bells and the wreath. That was the only thing that was missing, so now we've got it," Plamondon said with a sigh of relief.

With files from the CBC's Karen Kelly