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Christmas trees

Norway spruce. Latin name 'Picea abies' (labelled 'Pinus abies' on this print).         Accession number 1990.11.3207 Noble fir, 'Abies procera'. Accession number 1990.11.3313 'Pinus pinasta'. Accession number 1990.11.3205 'Pinus pinaster'. Accession number 1990.11.3204 Scots pine, 'Pinus syIvestris'. Accession number 1990.11.3300

Traditions and customs

The custom of decorating your home with evergreens in midwinter originates from pagan times when, throughout northern Europe, branches were brought inside and displayed as a symbol that the sun would return.

There are many references of having a tree inside the home at Christmas since that time, though the tradition wasn’t popular in Britain until the mid 19th century. It was made fashionable after an illustration appeared in the Illustrated London News of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their children standing around a Christmas tree in Windsor Castle.

Various species of trees are used as Christmas trees, such as the Norway spruce 'Picea abies', the first print shown above in the selection from the botany department at World Museum. Originally native to central and southern Europe, southern Scandinavia and the Balkans, the Norway spruce was introduced to Britain in 1548. It has been used at Christmas for many years, though it tends to drop its needles when brought indoors.

Other species used include the Douglas fir, 'Pseudotsuga menziesii', Scots pine, 'Pinus syIvestris' and noble fir, 'A. procera'. Select each thumbnail above to see a larger image.

Botanical prints and drawings at World Museum

The prints and drawings collection of the botany department at World Museum is a valuable resource for the identification and study of plant biodiversity past, present and future. Please note that this print is not currently on display.