The Perfect Christmas Tree

Sergiu Vidican

Written by Sergiu Vidican on December 23rd 2010
Posted in: Featured, Science
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Most of us buy a Christmas tree when Christmas time comes, but what many of us might not know is the fact that the displayed trees are not chosen at random. There are certain standards and regulations, and the trees which do not fit them, are not being sold.

For example a tree which is considered ugly, and which in most of the cases will not be sold, is one which does not have a straight top, and which has gaps between the branches. Lynne Aldrich owns a farm together with her husband in North Central Iowa, and they sell Christmas tree during the winter. She said that in most of the cases the people are very picky regarding the trees, even though they will keep them somewhere in a corner. She said that people are looking for symmetry, and when a tree does not have it, they do not want to purchase it. Ken Tilt, who is a professor of horticulture at Auburn University in Alabama, said that people were not this picky in the past, because during those times, they selected the trees straight from the woods. That is no longer an option, as people are required to purchase them from authorized sellers. Since we now purchase the trees from these sellers, we want the product to be perfect. For example we would not buy an item in a supermarket which has been damaged, and which does not look as it is supposed to look. The same thing happens to the trees.

However, there are cases when people like those kinds of trees, which the majority of people would consider ugly. Lynne said that there were cases when people bought trees which were not placed on sale, because she believed that no one would buy such a thing. However, she admitted that those are very rare exceptions, as in most of the cases people want the perfect Christmas tree. We want one which looks great, one which smells great, and one which would last for at least one month. The tradition of bringing a tree in the house started during the pagan times, but the custom started to become more and more popular by the beginning of the 20th Century. In the United States of America, the German regiments which were hired by the British introduced the Christmas trees to the colonists. Things really started to move after the end of the Second World War, when numerous Christmas trees were planted in specially designed plantations. Back in the days, people usually started dressing the Christmas trees during Christmas Eve, and then they would put the presents underneath it, when the children were all asleep.

Things have changed nowadays, as there are many people who dress it up right after Thanksgiving Day, which is one month prior to Christmas. That can be a problem because the tree needs to last for a much longer period of time. This is one of the reasons why more and more people buy fake Christmas tree, as they do not want to worry with the mess and with the cleaning which is required after the removal of a natural Christmas tree. In order for the tree to be able to last as much as possible, it is essential for it to retain as much moisture as possible. Two types of Christmas trees are excellent at this: the Fraser fir which is native to the mountaintops of southern Appalachia, and the noble fir which is native to the Pacific Northwest. It is important to keep the trees in the water, but that might not be necessary in the future, as the scientists might have developed a technology which might change that. A group of Canadian researchers have discovered that the ethylene is responsible for the needle los. Ethylene is a gaseous hormone which is also responsible for the deterioration of the fruits. They are trying to find a way of eliminating its effects, in order to make the trees to last as much as possible.

There are certain tests which the trees are subjected to, and one of the most important tests is the detached branch test. The researchers cut the branch of a tree and keep it at room temperature for 10 days, while they constantly check the way in which the needles react. It is important for the needles to last as much as possible. They repeat the process over the course of three years, and they have stated that the trees which are able to last very long under those conditions are very rare. They might be able to find 3 or 4 trees which those characteristics from 100, and when they find those trees, they make sure to propagate them. All the trees which are brought in the house during Christmas are conifers, and it seems that the most popular of them are the Aldriches grow Scotch pine, Canaan fir, and White pine. It seems that more and more people buy the firs, because they have this distinctive look; they resemble the trees which the people bought 50 years ago, the ones which have a dark green color.

People from Europe have different customs than the ones from America, as they buy the trees later, and they keep them in the house for a much shorter period of time than the Americans. They do not like the same trees that the Americans like, as they consider those to be too bulky, and to have a very strange look. The Europeans were the ones who introduced the custom with the Christmas trees, and it is unknown why the Americans started to love the different kinds of trees. There are many people who buy artificial trees, but it seems that for the moment, the natural ones are still the favorites. There are even some people who make some strange choices, as they use certain plants which should not be used. One of them is the Leyland Cypress, which looks nothing like a traditional Christmas tree. There are many who say that the beauty of the tree is not the most important thing, and that the most important thing is to have it inside the house.11


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2014-08-02 12:22:29