Posting vignettes based on great postcards found in my mail box and elsewhere.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The World's Largest Living Christmas Tree?

My children are all enthused by the Guinness Book of World Records. They love to read about the tallest, the oldest, shortest and fattest person. I like to school them with a little healthy skepticism by reminding them that these records represent a limited sampling range -- largely people who lobby the book's editors for inclusion. Out of the billions of people who live on this earth can we claim to know who holds any record? These boasts are rather adolescent, yet the book does show the incredible curiosity about unusual and sometimes bazzar human milestones.

I am skeptical of the claim on my postcard "The Largest Living Christmas Tree" from Wilmington, North Carolina.

First its not the largest by any stretch. Second its not an evergreen. (For me a Christmas tree has to be an evergreen but I won't be a stickler on that score, since I know its just my northern prejudice.) The third problem is it can't hold up its own lights. It seems the old tree is showing signs of its age.

This will be the 79th year the good folks in Wilmington have draped 4000 bulbs on this old oak with lights to celebrate the Christmas holidays. My post card says the limb spread is 110 feet and is 55 feet high. That's big but actually kind of squat for a Christmas tree. I prefer cone shaped Christmas trees.

My card also says the tree is three hundred years old. A current news story on the tree claims the tree is 400-450 year old. It seems to have aged 100-150 years in the twenty years since my post card was made. Maybe that sudden aging is why one observer said the tree it looking a bit ragged these days.

Anyway, it looks like someone half a world away has done the Wilmington tree one better. There's always someone who stands on top of a hill and yells, "I'm king!" In this case, its tree huggers from down under.

In Styx Valley, Australia,

activists lit up an enormous 400 year-old tree with Christmas lights to draw attention to its plight. They are trying to save what they call the world's tallest Christmas Tree on a tract of ancient forest in Tasmania. The tree is 84 meter (276 foot) Eucalyptus scheduled to be chopped up into bits for a Japanese paper company. The activists are living in the tree to protect it from being cut down. So it's not merely the king of Christmas Trees (its got the Wilmington tree by height and total volume), it is the Christmas tree with the most life in it. And its an evergreen to boot.

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