Botanists have been busy trying to iron out the pesky needle drop from Christmas trees for years by crossing different species of fir. But now more scientists are getting involved — and the results could mean that your next tree looks or smells completely different.
Not content with the rate of progress that horticulturists make — after all, it can take years to successfully cross and assess new breeds of tree — researchers have been performing genetic analysis of Christmas trees, reports New Scientist. Indeed, earlier this year the Norway spruce became the first conifer to have its entire genome sequenced, so now things are moving apace.
Researchers from University of Missouri in Columbia have been investigating which genes are related to needle dropping, and spotted some links between Christmas trees and other plants that could mean your carpet never sees another needle. But there are also some rather more... interesting possible new features, too. New Scientist explains:
Trees such as balsam firs already have fragrant, pine-like odours. But it might be possible to use genes from other trees or plants to produce scents such as vanilla, cinnamon and lemon.
Trees with yellow or red needles may also be possible.
Sadly such trees don't exist quite yet, but honestly, what home wouldn't be made better by a lemon-scented yellow or cinnamon-flavored red tree in the future? Perhaps the most desirable tweak of all, though — a self-illuminating tree — is a long way off: while plants have been created that glow, the wax and pigments in firs would almost entirely block any light created. At least fairy light manufacturers can rest easy. [New Scientist]
Image by kennymatic under Creative Commons licence