The hunt for the perfect Christmas tree may soon become a lot easier—and a lot less fun, at least in Germany: Just pick a nice clone. That's what German scientists are now working on, searching for a way to ensure that the sensitive saplings of the popular Nordmann fir species grow into impressive specimens. The fir is native to the Caucasus, but is often cultivated on massive plantations in Germany.
Biologist Kurt Zoglauer of Berlin's Humboldt University says 40% of trees don't make the cut when they mature after 10 to 14 years. Some are stunted by frost, while others turn out the wrong shade of green. Zoglauer's team, therefore, hopes to refine a method to clone particularly hardy and beautiful trees by 2016. The project is supported by a German government grant. (Read more Christmas tree stories.)