Keep It Real This Christmas

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THEY SAY MONEY DOESN’T GROW on trees, but don’t tell that to Christmas-tree growers who strive to make that adage lose its bark.

It was 160 years ago that the first retail Christmas-tree lot in the country opened in New York City. Today, the industry generates more than 100,000 U.S. jobs, with nearly 30 million real tannenbaums sold each year.

Still, sales of real trees have been declining nationally and in Michigan for years. To combat that trend, the USDA has awarded a $75,000 grant to a group of local botanical and forestry organizations for “Make It a Real Michigan Christmas,” a new campaign designed to promote the purchase of real Christmas trees.

Michigan’s Christmas-tree output ranks third in the nation, with the state producing nearly 1.6 million in 2007, behind only Oregon (6.9 million) and North Carolina (3.1 million).

Of the faux firs sold in this country, 85 percent are made in China, typically from plastic materials such as PVC, a potential source of hazardous lead.

EVERGREENS BY THE NUMBERS:

In 2010, real Christmas trees outsold fakes by more than three to one.

Up to three seedlings are planted in place of every real tree harvested.

The most common Michigan Christmas tree varieties are Scotch pine, Austrian pine, Eastern white pine, Norway pine, white spruce, blue spruce, Douglas fir, Fraser fir, and balsam fir.

For tree-recycling information: realchristmastrees.org, or call 1-800-CLEANUP.
Sources: Michigan Christmas Tree Association, mcta.org, and Michigan State University’s Department of Forestry.

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