Picea abies spruces up New York

Taste of Norway cookbook

The nation’s most famous “tannenbaum” has, since 1986, been a noble Norway Spruce

Photo: Anthony Quintano More lights than tree: five miles of LED lights, powered by solar panels, adorn each year’s tree. Pictured here is the tree from 2013, also a Norway Spruce.

Photo: Anthony Quintano
More lights than tree: five miles of LED lights, powered by solar panels, adorn each year’s tree. Pictured here is the tree from 2013, also a Norway Spruce.

Victoria Hofmo
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Picea abies, aka the Norway Spruce, is once again the Christmas tree of choice at Rockefeller Center. Perhaps it is this tree’s majestic skyward span, which can reach over 200 feet, or its lush deep green branches that make it popular. All I know is that, as a New Yorker who considers several visits to this tree a must over the Christmas Season, it never fails to inspire awe and delight.

In 1931, at the height of the Great Depression, demolition workers at the site of what was to become Rockefeller Center chipped in to buy a Christmas tree, a 20-ft. balsam fir, on which they hung decorations made by their families. A wonderful start to this beloved annual tradition.

This year’s tree was donated by Albert Asendorf and his partner, Nancy Puchalski. It thrived in the front yard of their home in Gardiner, New York. Trees are selected through photos sent in by prospective donors.

Rockefeller Center head gardener Erik Pauze made the final decision. He saw the image and thought, “Wow this is a great tree.” He went up to Ulster County and looked at it and declared it the one.

The tree weighs 10 tons, is 78 feet tall, and has lived for eight decades. When the tree comes down it still keeps giving, as it is donated to Habitat for Humanity who wisely uses the wood to build homes.

New York is not the only place graced with a Norwegian beauty. A Norway Spruce is also given annually from the city of Oslo to the cities of London, Edinburgh, Washington, D.C., and New York in a show of solidarity for their help during WWII. Since 1957, 23 of the 25 tallest trees at Rockefeller Center have been Norway Spruce. So, why not visit Rockefeller Center this Christmas to see this piece of Norway, the noble Picea abies.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 18, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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