If you decide to go for a real Christmas tree, instead of a fake, you’ll be faced with the problem of falling needles, as the tree dries out. A seven foot evergreen will bear 350,000 needles and drop most of them on the floor before Christmas is over.

Plant pathologist Gary Chastagner is running a $1.3-million RNA-sequencing trial that is sampling trees for needle retention. His goal is to discover the genes associated with shedding, in order to breed more needle-retentive trees, in order to create a tree that will last from Thanksgiving until after New Year’s.

In the December 6th edition of the New York Times, Michael Tortorello quotes Chastagner as saying, "It’s probably the largest single-funded Christmas tree project in US history. Some people in the public would ask, ‘Why would we spend money on this?’ Well, the Christmas tree industry is a $1 billion industry."

The largest and most sophisticated Christmas tree farms harvest almost a million trees a year from thousands of acres, and transport them by helicopter.

The Christmas tree can be traced back to the German Adam and Eve pageants of the 12th or 13th century. It hasn’t always been popular: In the 19th century, US trend setters recommended sticking with Christmas stockings.

During his 32 year career, Chastagner has researched such things as whether or not you can successfully hydrate a Christmas tree with an IV drip (the answer? No).

If you HURRY (and you’re a subscriber), you can get a great Christmas present for YOURSELF (or for someone you love): A beautiful hardcover novel by Whitley Strieber for less than $5 (but this offer is only good while supplies last).

What kind of tree would (or does) MOTKE have? When he burst into Whitley’s hotel room in 1998, Whitley asked him lots of things, but he didn’t get around to asking him that. However, Whitley DID take his advice and DID something about climate change!

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