Letter: Pointed observation on Christmas trees

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The Independent Online
Sir: Over coffee at the Forestry Commission's Alice Holt Research Station, we discussed your correspondent's observation (letter, 22 December) about those who draw Christmas trees. None of the three main types - Norway spruce, Scots pine or the splendid Noble fir - usually exhibit downward-pointing branches.

We offer four explanations for this piece of artistic licence:

1. The artist may think of trees weighed down by snow or even heavy baubles.

2. Some particularly impressive conifers, especially those found in northern latitudes or at high altitude where heavy snowfall is common, do display a pendulous habit.

3. The symmetry is more pleasing.

4. Tradition - perhaps arising from the Germanic origins of our Christmas trees in Victorian times (ie, acquired from a country where snow is more common and alpine habit more familiar).

The Forestry Commission does not have a tree-breeding programme to produce the idealised tree of artists, but we would encourage continued use of the real thing, rather than plastic substitutes, as far more environment friendly.

Yours faithfully,

JULIAN EVANS

Chief Research Officer

The Forestry Authority

Research Division

Farnham, Surrey

22 December

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