Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Longer Lasting Christmas Trees - Better for Those Allergic to Aspergillus.

It was announced a few years ago in this blog that it is a good idea to minimise the amount of time a 'live' freshly cut Christmas tree spends in your home before moving it outside. This is because just as with any other cut plant it is gradually dying (even though it may appear to be far from it) and will start to generate fungal spores as it starts to decompose - which would be bad news if you are sensitive to fungal spores such as Aspergillus.

We now have two additions to that advice.

  1. Recent research is working on ways to make a cut Christmas tree last longer once moved indoors. If we can delay the decomposition process then we can prolong the amount of time before it starts to produce too many spores. 
It has been known for many years that many plants release a signal when wounded & dying in the form of the gas ethylene. It seems to function as a hormone to trigger lots of different events including ripening. This is the basis of advice to keep ripening bananas away from other fruit as the ethylene released by the banana will accelerate the ripening of other fruit and cause spoilage.

The Canadian group researching ethylene and its influence on early needle drop of Christmas trees have managed to block the effect of ethylene and have lengthened the cut life of the tree two-fold. Such a tree could stay in a home of people who are sensitive to fungi for twice as long.

    2. If you have an artificial tree remember that during use and storage it needs to be kept dust free to reduce the amount of fungal growth as dust is an excellent food for moulds and is very good at absorbing moisture from the air.

Take care and have a very Happy Christmas!

1 comment:

Ian Cull said...

Excellent post. I'm wondering if there is enough moisture in the air for mold to grow on the dust of an artificial Christmas tree.

I live in Chicago and I find that the air is typically dry indoors in the winter time. In my office (commercial office building), the RH is 12% right now. That's because it's -11°F outside!.

The dust would need to have a water activity of around 0.65 which would correlate to a relative humidity of 65%. That is quite rare to find in the winter time. Then again, if it is stored in a humid attic in the summer time, it could certainly reach that level.

Keep up the great work on the blog.


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