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Mail Tribune 100

Dec. 20, 1915

A PLEA FOR THE CHRISTMAS TREE

Consider the Christmas tree, not on account of the unique fruit it bears today, but for its own romantic history.

Whether it be a hemlock, or a balsam firm, or any little scrub "evergreen," your Christmas tree links you with the most remote ages of the earth. It belongs to the family of pines or conifers. These are the aristocrats among trees. Their lineage can be traced back millions of years to the period when fishes were the only important vertebrates on earth. 

The pines, then, are very properly a symbol of longevity. As such they have made themselves a great place in oriental art.

The western world, however, has valued them mostly for their commercial uses. Pitch and resin, spruce gum and beer, bark for tanning, wood pulp, medicines and the cheapest as well as some of the most expensive woods are a few of the sources of wealth which man has discovered in the pine family.

And now comes the tragedy of the conifers.

Even the trees wage relentless warfare. Darwin says, "The oaks have driven the pines to the sands."

The conifers reproduce themselves from seeds. When a pine tree is cut, its root dies. And the seeds of the cone-bearers, unless they find fortunate lodgment, perish quickly. Thus persistent trees like the oak and the maple have taken up the best ground and the pines now live on mountain heights and sand dunes.

Slaughtered relentlessly by man and lacking power to reproduce themselves rapidly, these ancient and beautiful trees are doomed to extinction.

This is not a plea to do away with the Christmas tree. The trees used at the Christmas festival hardly count in the tremendous annual commercial sacrifice. 

This is a plea for the appreciation of the beauty and romance of the pine. Of late, landscape gardeners have been giving them their proper place in small city lots as well as upon large estates.

Whoever has a yard could do a service to his community by planting any of the scores of lovely cone-bearers.

And where is the child who would not like to raise his own Christmas trees?