Die Bodenkultur - Journal for Land Management, Food and Environment

M. Horacek:

Christmas tree production in Europe: Control of declared geographical origin by stable isotope analysis – a pilot study


Conifer trees sold as Christmas trees in Austria often have a designation of origin, as Christmas is a traditional holiday and religious celebration and emotionally connected to one’s home and region. Therefore many people want to strengthen this link by buying a tree of local origin. As imported conifer trees are usually cheaper than the locally grown ones, a measure to control the declaration of geographical origin is necessary. We analyzed spruce needle samples originating from Austria and different other European countries for their stable isotope pattern of H, C, N, S. Main discriminating parameters are hydrogen and sulfur isotopes. These variations are caused by differences in the environmental conditions at the respective locations such as climate and/or water sources, the proximity of the sea and the soil sulfur isotope composition.

Key words: Spruce, fir, hemlock, conifer, Christmas tree, geographic origin, stable isotope, precipitation, sulfur, hydrogen.