David P. Murbach, who for 26 years meticulously scouted 80-foot spruces to find the perfect Christmas tree for New York's Rockefeller Center, died. He was 57.

His longtime friend, Andre Dupuis, said Tuesday that Murbach was found dead in his West Palm Beach apartment on Dec. 23.

Dupuis said the New York horticulturist died from heart disease after suffering from high blood pressure.

Born in Amityville, N.Y., on July 19, 1952, Murbach was manager of the gardens division at Rockefeller Center since 1984. Besides his job as holiday tree finder, Murbach designed and maintained horticultural displays throughout the center.

Friends say he loved plants and thought every day about next year's Christmas tree.