Summer Tree Dream

«I‘m dreaming of a White Christmas»-singende Fichte, auf dem Weg von den Parkplätzen zu den Ausstellungsräumen des Kunstmuseum des Kantons Thurgau, Kartause Ittingen.

«The regional spruce, misleadingly referred to as a fir, is an element of the mountain forest. (Many varieties of Picea abies, the Norway spruce, are found in the northern corners of the Earth, and two species dominate the Alaskan landscape.) In contrast to the fir (in our neck of the woods the silver fir, Abies alba), the spruce also grows in drier climates. The fir prefers damper conditions, western facing slopes and the valleys of foothills and uplands.

If the climate continues to grow warmer, could – astonishingly as it might seem – the spruce encounter problems? The answer is yes: although seldom naturally found in low-lying and hilly regions, it is planted there as a particularly desirable and straight-growing timber. Often grown in monoculture or alongside a small proportion of other tree varieties, it struggles in dry summers. Conversely, in warm weather and dense growth conditions it attracts one of its greatest enemies: the bark beetle. At altitudes above 800 to 1000m the risks are significantly lower. Only towards the edge of the forest border is the spruce once again threatened by hardship. A fungus (Chrysomyxa) lives on the alpine rose (Rhododendron) which afflicts the spruce and severely weakens it. It is not known whether the fungus becomes more aggressive in warm weather conditions, but if so, this is only temporary since this area of the mountain forest is gradually moving upwards away from the warmth.

Unfortunately, the German names for plants and animals are extremely misleading. The spruce is not only not a fir, but the hornbeam is not a beech. Instead it is closely related to the birch. It’s also superfluous to call the beech a redbeech since there is no other beech in our part of the world. In addition, the guinea pig is not a pig but rather a rodent.

With best regards».

Prof. Dr. Christian Koerner, from the Botanical Institute at the University of Basel in response to a question concerning the connection between the proliferation of the spruce and climate change.


Installation with spruce, speakers and sound

Switzerland, Germany


2009: Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen


2008: Kunstmuseum Thurgau