Germany branches out into Christmas tree cloning

22:21, Dec 22 2012
Nordmann fir species
LOOMING LARGE: The Nordmann fir Christmas tree dwarfs the Queen outside No 10 Downing St. German scientists are now looking to clone the species to produce the perfect Christmas tree.

Feeling sapped after decking the halls? Well, the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree may soon become a lot easier: Just pick a nice clone.

That's what German scientists are now working on: They are branching out and searching a way to ensure that the sensitive saplings of the popular Nordmann fir species grow into impressive specimens.

The fir is native to the Caucasus, but is often cultivated on massive plantations in Germany.

Biologist Kurt Zoglauer of Berlin's Humboldt University said on Friday (local time) that 40 per cent of trees don't make the cut when they mature after 10 to 14 years. Some are stunted by frost, while others turn out the wrong shade of green.

Zoglauer's team therefore hopes to refine a method to clone particularly hardy and beautiful trees by 2016.

Rather than leafing the researchers out on a limb, Germany's government is supporting the project with a grant.