NCPA November 28, 2023

extremely old treeFor over nine decades, lighting the enormous tree at Rockefeller Center in New York City is an event that formally kicks off the holiday season, and today is the big day. It’s the 91st anniversary of the event, and the tree this year is an 80-foot Norway Spruce from Vestal, N.Y. It was selected by Erik Pauze, head gardener for Rockefeller Center, who has held the tree scouting job since 1993. He spends a lot of time driving up and down the Empire State, taking note of trees that are near maturity and finding the right one for the current year. (Reportedly, his main criterion is that it must look “perfect.”) Why a Norway Spruce? Its durability, for one, but it is also a fast-growing conifer that can live for 1,000 years — making Pauze’s job a little easier as he earmarks candidates. The oldest living Norway Spruce is Old Tjikko (pictured), whose root system is estimated to be 9,565 years old (you read that correctly) and stands 16-feet tall on a mountainside in Sweden. Don’t worry, though. Old Tjikko is not currently being considered by Pauze or his staff for 2024.