Oregon State University's Mike Bondi on the science of Christmas trees

The professor at Oregon State University’s College of Forestry specializes in Christmas trees. He is scheduled to speak at a Christmas tree workshop Saturday at the Whole Foods Market in Redwood City.

What do you look for when you purchase a Christmas tree? The first thing I think about is bringing home a really good, fresh tree. If you bring home the right tree, it stays fresh longer in the home — assuming you take care of it.

How do you make sure you get a fresh tree? Grab some of the foliage and give it a little squeeze, or put your nose right down there, and it should smell like you’re out in the forest. You can also take a needle off between your thumb and forefinger and snap it, like you would snap a carrot. If it’s pliable, it’s probably not as fresh as if it just snaps.

How do you take care of a tree? Taking care of it means cutting the bottom of the tree off — taking a quarter of an inch to half an inch off the bottom of the tree — and then putting it in a tree stand that hopefully carries about a gallon of water, and filling the stand with water and keeping it full.

How can you tell if your tree is healthy? If it’s a fresh-cut, full reservoir tree, the first several days to a week it should be taking up a lot of water, so that’s a good indicator that it’s healthy. Another would be that it’s not dropping a lot of foliage.

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