I recently heard from a guy who decided to cut a cedar tree from a ditch line for a Christmas tree instead of buying one. He said that after getting it home and decorating it that it started to have a very strong smell of urine. By the end of the day they were taking it down and hauling it to the curb.

What seems odd to me is how he would not of smelled anything while cutting it down or putting it up. It seems that an odor from an animal marking the tree would have been immediately noticed. Are there chemicals that can be applied to trees that would not smell until some time after warming up? And if so, how would any nearby neighbors not be affected on warmer days? Personally, if this is the case, I find it a sweet case of justice and applaud the use of it assuming there is no ecological harm done.

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    It doesn't sound like much of a deterrent if they've already cut it down before they find out. The deterrent would be a warning sign which wouldn't have to be true. Semi-serious: cut out a few branches so the trees will never look like nice symmetric Christmas trees.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 12:07
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    You specify cedar tree, which tends to be resistant, and you mention the smell of urine, which is not the same as fungus-y wood. However, as a prima facie case, that would be my guess- the tree had a fungus, and that was the source of the smell. Aside from that, it seems like an extreme stretch to assume the odor has a deliberate and man-made origin rather than a natural one.
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 14:36
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    "I recently heard from a guy"... mmmhmmmm... ;)
    – fgysin
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 6:42
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    "no ecological harm done" - You're doubling the number of trees that each tree poacher kills. First they cut down your treated tree, then they throw it away and cut down a replacement.
    – csk
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 19:20

1 Answer 1


It has been done:

Skunk spray, fox urine, heat activated sulfur smell, common ammonia, and even essence of bone tar oil.

Mental Floss

New York Times

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