Iowans who are shopping for a Christmas tree are being warned, just because it’s green doesn’t mean it’s fresh. Forester Dennis Adams says if the evergreen was positively cut down in Iowa or even locally, it may be just fine, but that tree may have traveled a great distance before it gets to your living room.
“A lot of them come from the northern and western states and they may’ve been cut quite a bit before Thanksgiving, so they could be several weeks or a month old before they get to the retail lot,” Adams says. “You have to be careful. Very close to 100% of the trees you see on retail lots are painted green.” He says there are simple ways you can test whether the tree is dried out and won’t last long indoors.
“Stroke a branch and if too many needles fall off or if they feel dry then be wary,” Adams says. “Probably one of the easiest ways is to hit the butt of the tree on the ground and see how many needles fall. Another way is to take a needle in your fingers and bend it and if it’s brittle, it should be flexible so if it’s brittle, the tree may be dry.”
Once you’ve picked out a good candidate at take it home, he says take a few precautions to ensure it stays lush-looking. “Usually, you take a tree home and slice a little slice off the bottom, straight across,” Adams says. “That opens the pores in the wood so it will absorb water. Then, put it in a stand that holds plenty of water because, depending on the species of tree and how big it is, I’ve seen trees absorb up to a gallon of water a day for a few days.”
The most common variety of tree sold in the region is the Scotch pine, but others may include: the Austrian pine, white pine, Colorado blue spruce, Norway spruce and balsam fir.