Bruce Bennett, coordinator of Environment Yukon’s conservation data centre, holds a sampling of needles from a spruce tree on Dec. 6. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon Yuletide: How to find the perfect Christmas tree

Every Yukon household is entitled to harvest two Christmas trees every year

Looking for a real, live Christmas tree this year?

Every Yukon household is entitled to harvest two Christmas trees every year, no permits or other permission required. And with about 28.1 million hectares of the Yukon covered in boreal forest — that’s close to 60 per cent of the territory’s area — there are plenty of fine, prickly candidates to choose from.

Members of the pine and fir families are both good choices, according to Robin Sharples, a research forester with the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, and Bruce Bennett, coordinator of Environment Yukon’s conservation data centre.

While there’s nothing wrong with taking home a, say, lodgepole pine, which Bennett said people in Dawson City are particularly fond of doing, its spaced-out branches and usually slight lean to one side or another may remind some of Charlie Brown’s unfortunate sapling.

“Subalpine fir just makes a nicer, cheerier Christmas tree,” Sharples said.

The reason the subalpine fir is the Yukon’s official tree can even be traced back to the outstanding job it does as a Yuletide shrub. As Bennett tells it, back when the Yukon was trying to pick its territorial tree, he had to write the descriptions for the four contenders, and the only thing he could come up with for the subalpine fir was that it made a good Christmas tree.

That didn’t earn it much regard from adults, who were rooting hard for the aspen; however, when children got in on the competition, the vote suddenly swung overwhelmingly in favour of the subalpine fir.

Adding to the subalpine fir’s impressive portfolio is the fact that it’s one of the few trees that can move.

“A subalpine fir, the actual stem can be a certain age, but its branches touch the ground and they root, it’s called layering, and so you end up with these clusters,” Bennett explained. “And if you photographed subalpine fir and you took a photograph of it (year after year), you would see the subalpine fir, the same tree, moving upslope in the wind because it tips over, it roots, it grows. It’s still the same tree, because it’s all originated from a seed, but it’s moving up the slope. So trees like that can live hundreds, thousands of years.”

And in case you weren’t sold on it yet, the fir boasts yet another benefit in that, despite being covered in needles, it’s not very prickly, unlike another coniferous tree floating around the North — the spruce.

“The best way to tell a spruce for a fir is to go and hug on in your shorts, because if you go, ‘Ouch,’ you know it’s a spruce,” Bennett said, adding that the needles are typically short and can be rolled between your fingers, unlike a pine’s flat needles. Each spruce needle also grows on its own, unlike a pine’s, which usually grow in pairs.

Besides being unpleasant to hug, spruces also come with two other major disadvantages — unlike pines or firs, they start shedding needles basically as soon as they’re cut, even if they’re watered, and, according to some, they give off a smell that resembles cat pee.

Regardless of which tree catches your eye, Sharples said there are a few things to keep in mind when harvesting: make sure it’s growing in an open, public area (i.e. don’t nab one from your neighbour’s backyard), and make sure you take the whole tree with you (don’t cut down a really tall tree and just lop off the top; try and find a full tree that fits your needs).

And when you get it home, keep it watered, because that not only keeps your tree alive and healthy-looking through the season, but also guards against it becoming a fire hazard.

Maps on where Yukoners can harvest Christmas trees are available online at emr.gov.yk.ca/forestry

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

 

Bruce Bennett, coordinator of Environment Yukon’s conservation data centre, reaches in for a sample of needles from a lodgepole pine tree. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Just Posted

Without hemodialysis option, Yukon man returns home to die

Terry Coventry said he hopes the Yukon government will consider offering hemodialysis in the future

WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World

Porter Creek Rams ride strong first quarter to boys Super Hoops win against F.H. Collins Warriors

After two days of competition, the F.H. Collins Warriors are 0-2 in boys play and 2-0 in girls play

Yukon officials issue warning after three fentanyl deaths last month

There were also a handful of overdoses that did not result in deaths

Whitehorse proposes 2.2 per cent property tax hike

The 2020 operating budget passed first reading this week

Dahria Beatty wins bronze at Opa Cup cross-country skiing race in Slovenia

Whitehorse’s Emily Nishikawa was 10th in the 10-km race

RCMP asks B.C. cannabis shop to remove image of Sam Steele

Owner happy to comply with RCMP, but wants more information first

EDITORIAL: Time for the Yukon Party’s opening act

Having a competitive leadership race could be good for the party

City news, briefly

Some of the news from the Dec. 2 Whitehorse city council meeting

Arctic Sports Inter-School Championship draws athletes from as far as Juneau

The three-day event included more than 300 participants from kindergarten to Grade 12

Access road to Telegraph Creek now open

Ministry has spent $300K to date on work to clear rockslide

Freedom Trails responds to lawsuit

A statement of defence was to the Yukon Supreme Court on Nov. 19.

Whitehorse RCMP seeking suspects after robbery at Yukon Inn

Robbery took place in early hours of Nov. 27, with suspects armed with a knife and “large stick”

Most Read