Posts Tagged ‘Christmas trees’

If you have a real Christmas tree in your home this holiday season, it’s likely a Balsam Fir. Although these beautiful evergreens can live to be up to 200 years old, those cut down as Christmas trees are often no more than 10 years old. They’re preferable to spruce and pine due to their long-lasting dark green needles, refreshing fragrance and easily decorated boughs.

These days, most Christmas trees are harvested on tree farms in such a manner that they are now a more ecological choice than artificial trees. While 80% of artificial trees are made in China, real Christmas trees are grown all across North America. Daily, the trees on each acre of one such farm creates enough oxygen to support 18 people. Balsam firs are native to Nova Scotia and Eastern and Central Canada.

In the forest, mature balsam firs can grow to 70 ft in height and have a distinct church steeple shape.  Their foliage is eaten by moose, deer, snowshoe hares and grouse, while red squirrels, porcupines and chickadees enjoy the seeds. 

Lower branches touch the ground, providing excellent hiding places for hares and grouse.  Each tree possesses both male and female parts, the larger cones being female.  Although adaptable to a variety of soils and climates, balsam firs thrive in moist, cool areas.  They are very abundant here in Cow Bay.  Unfortunately they are shallow rooted and cannot withstand the heavy winds that often blow along our coast. 

Almost 165 years ago, Hans Christian Andersen of Denmark wrote a story about the life of a Christmas tree, called ‘The Fir Tree.’  It impressed me greatly when I first read it as a child and can be found here in its entirety. 

“I know nothing of that place,” said the fir-tree, “I know the wood where the sun shines and the birds sing.” And then the tree told the little mice all about its youth. They had never heard such an account in their lives; and after they had listened to it attentively, they said, “What a number of things you have seen? you must have been very happy.”

“Happy!” exclaimed the fir-tree, and then as he reflected upon what he had been telling them, he said, “Ah, yes! after all those were happy days.”

~ From ‘The Fir Tree’ by Hans Christian Andersen

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