Update, Dec. 3, 2017: Cleaned up the links. The research center changed its URL, and the Trump administration is working over the EPA’s website.
Update, Dec. 13, 2010: I’ve heard from a researcher who worked on the study about preventing Christmas tree needle loss. He said to avoid using AVG (aminoethoxyvinylglycine) at home because it was tested in a lab on balsam fir branches, so the quantity required to treat a full tree is unknown. Anyone want to risk their Xmas cheer for science? Probably not, because I’ve also been told that AVG costs hundreds of dollars for a few tens of milligrams. Save it for the iPad! And if all of this talk about the chemical preservation of holiday spirit has awoken your inner scientist elf, check out the Christmas Tree Research Centre, which NPR reported on. It’s the place that got this whole blog post going.
Update, Dec. 12, 2010: Many merry celebrants of ye olde holidays have stopped by this post via Google, and no doubt they’re wondering: What do I actually do to stop my tree from dropping needles? Well, the study I found loosely recommends, without any indication of what might result, that you take something called AVG (aminoethoxyvinylglycine) and mix it into the water from which your joyous tree drinks. I looked around and it seemed AVG is something that suppresses ethylene, which, if I understand this right, plants generate, thus causing ripening (or the loss of needles). NPR did something on it (mp3). As far as acquiring AVG, I have no idea. I e-mailed the scientists behind the study, and if they can help, I will share their advice.
If starting up a chemistry lab in your living room is not your idea of a good time, then try out some common sense measures:
- Buy a healthy tree;
- If you throw it on top of your car, don’t let it dry out in the wind;
- Make sure it can absorb water;
- Give it plenty of water;
- Alleviate dry-air conditions; uprooted trees don’t like ’em.
The original post is below.
By identifying the hormone that causes needles to drop from bright and cheery Christmas trees, researchers at Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada, have devised ways for slowing down this terrible, terrible phenomenon. Other mad scientists have made gold and silver nanoparticles, which could be useful for all kinds of things, but not decorating Christmas trees, despite this blog post’s headline, unless you have nano-sized fingers. Finally, it’s really snowy in Britain. Big cameras in space told me so.
There, Christmas is heralded.