Just in time for Christmas, researchers say they have discovered the secret behind the perfect Christmas tree. After years of studying the reproduction mechanism of the Caucasian fir, Germany’s most common Christmas tree variety, scientists at Berlin’s Humboldt University say they have been able to reproduce Christmas trees by cloning their seeds. Their Frankentrees, they say, will grow to be perfectly shaped, resistant to greenflies and other insects and perfectly colored — and they won’t lose needles.
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Professor Kurt Zoglauer, who has been leading the research project, is quick to point out that perfection doesn’t mean that the trees will be identical. “We have developed trees with a variety of characteristics, making them all beautiful in their own way,” the botanist said in a university press release. “Single households prefer smaller trees that fit into smaller apartments.”
Two-thirds of the almost 28 million Christmas trees sold in Germany are Caucasian firs, which originate in Georgia, Abkhazia and Russia. German Environmentalists have been up in arms recently against the country’s Xmas-industrial complex, which they allege is replacing large swathes of indigenous forest with Caucasian fir farms. Four German states have already set in place legislation requiring permits for Christmas tree plantations.
The breakthrough could be a boon for the Christmas tree industry the United States, only recently recovered from stagnating demand half a decade ago. In 2007, the year with the most recent available public data from the Department of Agriculture, some 17.4 million Christmas trees were cut to be sold across the U.S. — 16% fewer than in 2002. Last year, the number of trees sold jumped to 30.8 million, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. A hardy, handsome, cloned tree could be the perfect product for the billion-dollar industry — and good news for the 100,000 people who make their living off Christmas trees nationwide.
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