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What You Didn't Know about Your Christmas Tree This Holiday Season

First Posted: Dec 21, 2014 10:37 AM EST
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Each Christmas, families pick out evergreen trees to place in their homes. Festooned with lights and ornaments, these trees last just a short while for the holiday season. In the wild, though, these trees are some of the hardiest and most amazing to be found, surviving extreme temperatures. Here are just some of the things that you probably didn't know about your Christmas tree.

What you probably know as a "Christmas tree" is an evergreen conifer, and can be a spruce, fir or pine. These trees actually have the ability to withstand some of the coldest temperatures on earth in the boreal forests of Siberia. Here, winter temperatures regularly plummet to below -76 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only that, but the trees have to withstand little rainfall; precipitation often comes in the form of fog and snow with little rain during summer months.

Conifers are also come of the longest-lived trees. As a group, pine trees are long-lived conifers. In fact, most varieties live over a century, and bristlecone pine trees in particular are known to leave to 4,800 years.

Christmas trees aren't just long-lived, though; they're also tall-really, really tall. In fact, the tallest Douglas fir tree in the world rises over 300 feet above the forest floor in Oregon; it's the tallest non-redwood conifer in the world. Most of the Christmas trees that sit in your living room are a mere 10 years old, in comparison.

While these trees are hardy, though, they may struggle with future climates. In fact, the taiga is already being converted into grassland with warmer temperatures.

Next time you look at your Christmas tree, remember that you're looking at a pretty amazing plant. These trees can withstand some of the harshest conditions on the planet.

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