In search of the perfect Christmas tree for your family? What’s the Cadillac of Christmas trees?  If you want a soft-needled tree, do you have to sacrifice fragrance? And what is a Concolor?  You can get the answers thanks to the new “Doug Fir Christmas Tree Guide” app – available free for your Android phone.

“There isn’t another app like this,” said Dr. Christopher Hardy, a biology professor at Millersville University . “I designed this systematic guide to answer the questions I had about Christmas trees. Doug Fir will help people identify trees and learn a bit about them at the same time—all from the ease of their phone.”

Hardy designed the app with Millersville computer science student, Joe Marks, who graduated in May.

“The top 10 trees we cover make up 99 percent of all Christmas trees sold,” said Hardy. These include: Concolor (white fir), Fraser fir, Douglas fir, Scotch pine, white pine, Colorado blue spruce, Norway spruce, Arizona cypress (ice-cedar), Leyland cypress and red-cedar.

“A blue spruce may look impressive in a great room,” said Hardy, “but its sharp needles can draw blood and wouldn’t be great in close quarters with kids. A Concolor (White Fir) is an up-and-coming tree that is both soft and very fragrant. It has the blue-silvery look of the spruce without the spruce’s prickly needles.”

Some fun facts from the Doug Fir app:

  • The white fir is the natural host to the “fir mistletoe,” which is a parasitic plant.
  • The pines—Scotch and white—while soft, are not as fragrant as the firs.
  • The conical shape of Christmas trees is an adaptation designed to shed snow and ice in the winter.
  • The wonderfully scented resin of Christmas trees is also the source of the industrial solvent turpentine and the rosin used to create friction on bows for string instruments, and it improves the grip of gymnasts, bowlers and baseball pitchers.
  • The sticky resin protects the trees from insect and fungal attacks.
  • The berry-like cones of the common juniper, a close relative of red-cedar Christmas trees, are used to flavor gin.
  • The Fraser fir is considered the Cadillac because of its great looks/smell and needle retention.

And, coming soon is the Doug Fir app for iPhones.  

This article has 4 comments

  1. John Wallace (Biology)

    Congrats on an awesome project idea, I know what tree I’m getting for Christmas…. A DOUG FIR !

  2. It was a pleasure working with Joe. Thanks for supporting us after hours, Nazli.

    Cynthia, it is always a pleasure to hear about former professors such as Professor Miller and their classes. It would neat to see just what his Natural Biology class entailed. That class is no longer on the books here and I am not familiar with it.

  3. This app brings back fond memories of Mr Miller’s Natural Biology class many years ago. We went to the “Bush” to learn about the trees surrounding us and it’s something I’ve used every Christmas. Thanks for putting it into a neat package in time for tree shopping!

  4. Chris and Joe – having seen both of you working so diligently on this app for several months, I am especially delighted to congratulate you!
    …and the only way to resolve the contest between Fraser Fir and Doug Fir at the Hardy household, will be to have both this Christmas!

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