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Spanish police seize mistletoe haul and warn against Christmas foraging

A Guardia Civil officer seizes 661lb of mistletoe that was going to be sold at a Christmas market
A Guardia Civil officer seizes 661lb of mistletoe that was going to be sold at a Christmas market

Spaniards have been warned it is illegal to forage for mistletoe after authorities seized 661lb (300kg) of the festive plant destined for sale at a Christmas market.

Officers from the Guardia Civil foiled and fined two unnamed individuals after an inspection of their van revealed a massive haul of the white-berried kissing plant packed in boxes and ready for distribution among Christmas markets.

A large bunch of mistletoe to hang up at Christmas can cost around €30 (£26) in a Spanish florist’s shop but its sale is only legal if it was grown on a commercial farm or market garden.

The officers became suspicious of the occupants of the van in a motorway rest area between Zaragoza and Tudela in northern Spain and searched their vehicle. The mistletoe was impounded and the pair fined under the relevant conservation and biodiversity laws of Spain and the Aragon region.

661lbs of mistletoe seized by police
Fines for being caught gathering protected wild plants range from €1,000 to €100,000

In a statement, the Guardia Civil warned Spaniards not to go searching for wild plants this year as they prepare to decorate their homes for Christmas.

“Please remember, especially at this time of year, that wild species such as holly, moss and mistletoe are protected and cannot be gathered from their natural environment”, the police force said, encouraging consumers to buy only from authorised nurseries or choose artificial replica plants, instead.

Large slices of moss are much sought after by Spanish families for use as ground mats in nativity scenes.

Fines for being caught gathering protected wild plants range from €1,000 to €100,000 depending on the quantities involved and the conservation status of the area from which they were taken. The Guardia Civil did not specify how much the pair of would-be mistletoe traders had been fined.

In Britain, you are allowed to harvest wild mistletoe but it is illegal to uproot the entire plant.