tree-logo.gif (7741 bytes) Plant Taxonomy (BIOL308)  -  Stephen G. Saupe, Ph.D.; Biology Department, College of St. Benedict/St. John's University, Collegeville, MN 56321;;

Christmas Botany

I. Plants and the holidays

II. Soma - Fly Agaric

It has been suggested that the origin of Santa Claus is the mushroom, Amanita muscaria (Fly agaric). Many parallels between the mushroom and Santa story:

  1. Santa wears a red suit with white trim. The Fly agaric is an extremely beautiful mushroom that has a brilliant red cap with white spots.
  2. Santa lives at the North Pole. The Fly agaric is a circumboreal mushroom that grows in association (called mycorrhizae) with conifers (Christmas trees!?) and deciduous trees such as birch. This mushroom has been used as an inebrient by inhabitants of these northerly climes, notably in the Kamchatka peninsula region of Siberia. In fact, the Fly agaric was the primary inebrient of these peoples until the 1500's when whalers and soldiers introduced vodka.
  3. Santa has reindeer. Reindeer are common inhabitants of Siberia and are reported to have a "taste" for Fly agaric. It is also reported, but I question the validity of the reports, that if a person eats the flesh of an intoxicated reindeer, they too will become intoxicated.
  4. Santa has elves for helpers. Approximately 20 minutes after ingestion of Fly agaric, most people fall into a deep, vision-filled sleep. During this period, the intoxicated individual may receive divine revelations from 'Mukhomor spirits', which are described as small (elves?) people. [As an aside, after awaking, the inebriated person reportedly feels elated and capable of exaggerated physical feats. It has been suggested, although it is most likely incorrect, that the Viking berserkers were inebriated with Fly agaric when they went on their barbaric raids.]
  5. Santa enters your house through the chimney. The Mukhomor spirits, which provide divine guidance, enter a dwelling through the smoke hole.

For more information, check out the essay I wrote "Is Santa a Hallucinogenic Mushroom"?

III. Mistletoe

A. Taxonomy - Viscaceae

B. Economic uses

C. History

D. Christian legend

E. Norse Legend

IV. Christmas Trees – Check out the essay I have posted at my web site on Christmas trees .  The take-home-message from this essay is that:

V. Euphorbia pulcherrima - Pointsettia

VI. Christmas Cactus

VII. Holly (Aquifoliaceae)

| Top | Plant Tax. Home | SGS Home | Disclaimer |

Last updated:  08/20/2007 / � Copyright by SG Saupe