A Christmas Trivia Quiz

THE REAL DIRT

December 13, 1992|By MIKE KLINGAMAN

Deck the halls with boughs of holly: It's supposed to protect homes against lightning.

'Tis the season to be jolly: The English made beer by boiling young spruce trees during the Middle Ages.

Holiday flora is popping up in homes and malls everywhere. There are poinsettias and pine trees, holly and ivy, mistletoe and amaryllis.

We see them every winter. But how much do we really know of our favorite yuletide plants?

;/ Take The Real Dirt's Christmas Trivia Quiz:

TRUE OR FALSE

1. Mistletoe can be a naughty plant.

2. Boston ivy comes from Massachusetts.

3. The pine cone is a state flower.

4. Holly makes a hot toddy.

5. Christmas trees reach maturity in 20 years.

6. Reindeer dung makes lousy compost.

ANSWERS

1. TRUE. Mistletoe is a parasite that clings to trees and feeds on sap. Yet we honor it in yuletide song. I propose we change the words to: I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus/Underneath the parasite last night.

2. FALSE. Boston ivy comes from Japan. It arrived here long before the first Toyota.

3. TRUE. Maine chose the pine cone as its state flower. Smart choice. Unlike other state flowers, the pine cone never fades.

4. TRUE. Of the 300 varieties of holly, 50 are potable, providing you know what you're doing. American Indians liked to get together, drink a holly brew, throw up and go home. In other words, a lot like college.

5. FALSE. The average Christmas tree reaches marketable height in a decade or less. And that figure is decreasing as more Americans seek smaller trees, presumably for smaller homes.

6. FALSE. At 25 percent protein, reindeer manure is one of the best compost materials around. Providing you can get it.

MULTIPLE CHOICE

L 1. George Washington's teeth were made of what kind of wood?

(a) spruce

(b) sweet gum

(c) holly

(d) oak

2. What color are the flowers of the poinsettia plant?

(a) red

(b) white

(c) pink

(d) none of the above

3. To make your poinsettia bloom for the holidays, place it for 12 hours a day inside:

(a) a closet

(b) a bathtub

(c) a refrigerator

(d) a microwave

4. Poinsettias have been known to bloom until:

(a) New Year's Day

(b) Valentine's Day

(c) Easter

(d) The cat mauls them

5. Which of the following are available at garden centers:

(a) gold

(b) frankincense

(c) myrrh

% (d) none of the above

ANSWERS

1. (c). Washington's teeth were made of holly, the hard white wood of a tree best known for its festive leaves and berries. It's not known whether the president placed his choppers on the White House mantel for holiday decorative purposes.

2. (d). It's the showy petals, or bracts, of the poinsettia that are red, white or pink. So it's easy to miss the tiny yellow flowers.

3. (a). A closet is a poinsettia's best friend. Plunge the plant into total darkness for 12 to 14 hours, until the bracts start to gain color. Then place it in a sunny room for Christmas.

4. (c). Some poinsettias retain their vivid colors until Easter. However, mine usually succumb by the Super Bowl.

5. (c). Myrrh, a resin, is extracted from cistus, a woody, low-growing, evergreen shrub that is sold at many nurseries.

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