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Christmas tree facts: It’s a growing market in more ways than one

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But do you know how long it takes to grow a fir from seed to the tree sitting in your window?

On average, a 6ft Christmas tree is eight years old, while taller trees, such as the 40ft Norwegian spruces on display at Jenner’s in Edinburgh each year, take 30 years to reach the required height.

A rigorous process of preparation, weeding, transplanting, fertilisation and spraying is undertaken before branches are sheared or shaped by hand to give them the optimum curves needed for Christmas decoration.

It’s a growing business in more ways than one.

Christmas tree in Dundee (DC Thomson)

Around 8.25 million are sold every year in the UK, up from two million 30 years ago.

The month-long market is worth around £250m to the UK economy as nearly 50% of people now opt for a real tree over an artificial one.

The Norway spruce is the traditional tree but it’s renowned for losing its needles in heated homes.

So it’s often replaced by the Noble fir, mainly grown in Ireland, a non-needle dropping, highly-scented tree that does have the unfortunate drawback of smelling of onions to some noses.

Up to  two million trees are imported into Britain a year. After Ireland, Belgium and Scandinavia are the main suppliers.

Popular types grown in Britain include the Nordman fir, with blue-green needles, and the Blue spruce which has a fresher scent and darker needles. The diminutive Fraser fir is perfect for smaller homes.

Around 70 million Christmas trees are growing in Britain at any one time.

When it comes to displaying your tree, standing them in water in a traditional reservoir type stand is the most effective way of maintaining freshness and minimising needle loss.

Check the water regularly – a Christmas tree can drink as much as two pints of water a day once brought inside.

Danish and UK scientists have been developing GM trees which use phosphorescent cells from jellyfish and could glow in the dark, reducing the need for Christmas tree lights but for now it’s best to use lights that produce low heat to help reduce drying the tree.

And the final tip is to be careful.

The NHS recorded 750 Christmas tree-related accidents in the home last year, the most common being eye injuries.