Sunday Feature: Winter Forest


Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough tells the magical story of the tree that sits at the heart of Christmas day – the pine tree . We’ll leave our cosy, bauble lit front rooms and head out through starry skies to the vast pine forests of the world, where Eleanor discovers a tale of economic power, political intrigue, and biological wonder. As we’re watched over by the world’s oldest tree – the Bristlecone pine – thousands of years pass. Whole cultures appear from the pine forests as the tree journeys to the tropics, the Middle East, and encircles the world in the North. Ships masts, log cabins, violins, baubles and scented air fresheners arrive and depart. Nations are built from the wood, wars are fought over it, gifts bestowed. As Eleanor warms her hands on the wildfires of the Cretaceous period the modern pine emerges from its flames, and she wonders why we still invite this tree into our homes and worship it above all others. An extraordinary story of global dominance, cultural influence, and slightly kitsch baubles.