Hard to believe, but it is almost that time. It is almost time to make the yearly decision about the family Christmas tree. Will it be a Noble Fir? Maybe this year a Douglas Fir?
Hopefully everyone will avoid that little mini dancing tree called “Douglas Fir”. Frankly, the thing is scary – it has eyes and dances and sings when people simply walk by minding their own business.
Christmas trees come in many shapes and sizes. Charlie Brown’s tree is scraggly and woebegone – but perennially endearing – while the giant trees that command so much attention on the White House lawn and at Rockefeller Center tower majestically over crowds.
Botanist Clint Springer, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, says there is room for all kinds of trees to celebrate the holidays, but there are many benefits associated with choosing real Christmas trees.
Springer, who studies the effects of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide on the growth and development of plants, says that since trees use photosynthesis for energy, they actually remove or “sequester” carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
“Research has shown that trees slow the rate of greenhouse gas accumulation in our atmosphere,” he says. “Moreover, according to the National Christmas Tree Association, one to three seedlings are planted to replace harvested trees, which keeps the carbon sequestration cycle going.”
Springer notes that the benefits of real trees reach beyond winter. “Many municipalities have free Christmas tree recycling programs, and citizens can use the mulched and composted trees from local townships on lawns and gardens,” he says. “This reduces the need for both water and nutrients for lawns and garden plants in the summer.”
Evergreens also offer wildlife a year-round habitat, which supports biodiversity. “Christmas tree farms provide a haven for birds to take cover from predators and harsh weather, and they can feed on insects found on trees,” notes Springer. “The farms also help maintain open, undeveloped space. This type of green space is important because it can serve as a bridge between larger tracts of contiguous forest land for animals, plants and insects.”
But the best reason for choosing a real tree may be more subjective. “Real Christmas trees evoke happy memories,” Springer says. “For many people, a real tree symbolizes time-honored family traditions. My favorite tree is the Canaan Fir, which has the quintessential Christmas tree scent, and is found growing naturally near my boyhood home.”
One Gilbert resident can remember attempting the “Let’s go to the pretty white forest to chop down our own tree”, with dismal results. It sounds like such a refreshing great idea. In reality, it was cold, wet, and stressful.
One year this same Gilbert family experienced the “OMG, the tree is dead (and turning brown!) three weeks before Christmas day”. That year, they were afraid to leave lights on the tree for fear that even the slight warmth of the fairy lights would be enough to set the tree ablaze.
The brown dead tree was not a Hallmark moment at the time. Thankfully time has made it into a funny memory that was certainly not funny at the time.
This year, that Gilbert family is going to try a live (potted) tree. When Christmas celebrations are over, they will still have the tree to either plant in the yard, or donate the tree to the Town of Gilbert.
What kind of tree will you get?
Source: Saint Joseph’s University
Tracy Lynn Cook is a writer in Gilbert, Arizona. To read more, please visit her blog at www.TLCsThoughts.com, or browse by topic:
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