Nov
18

Types of Christmas Trees

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People have been decorating Christmas trees for hundreds of years. Fir, pine and spruce varieties are among the most popular.

There are about 30 million Christmas trees sold in the United States every year. Most of these are conifers, or cone bearing trees with needles. Pine trees have their needles in clusters of two, three or five while the needles on fir and spruce trees are individually attached. Needles of fir trees look flat and those on spruce trees are more squared. In the southeast, Cypress trees, particularly the Leyland Cypress, is popular as a Christmas tree. Its needles are arranged in flat sprays.

Below we describe some of the most popular types of trees used in America for Christmas trees. Our list is arranged alphabetically.

Arizona Cypress

The needles of the Arizona Cypress are soft and short, only about .1 inches long. They’re pale green to grayish green in color. Reaching between 40 and 50 feet in height they are the only cypress native to the southwest United States.

Balsam Fir

Dark green on top and silvery underneath the needles of the Balsam Fir give off a pleasant fragrance. These trees will reach between 40 and 60 feet in height and are native to the northeast United States from Minnesota in the west to Maine in the north and West Virginia in the south. They also grow in eastern to central Canada.

Colorado Blue Spruce

Named in part for the blue-gray to silvery blue color of its needles, this tree will grow to a height of 115 feet and live up to 800 years. It’s the state tree of Colorado and Utah and native to the American west. The National Christmas Tree of the United States is a Colorado Blue Spruce. It was 15 years old and 30 feet tall when it was planted on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C.

Douglas Fir

Native to western North America, from the Rocky Mountains to central California and north to Alaska, the Douglas Fir can grow to heights of 250 feet. Its needles are dark green to blue green and give off a fragrant aroma. The Douglas Fir is not a fir, but a distinct species all by itself. It’s the most abundant species of softwood in North America. The tree used in the Blue Room of the White House has traditionally been a Douglas Fir.

Fraser Fir

With dark green needles with bands of silver underneath, the Fraser Fir grows to heights of 80 feet. It normally grows at elevations greater than 4,500 throughout the southern Appalachian and Smoky Mountains from Virginia south to North Carolina and west to eastern Tennessee.

Leyland Cypress

This tree is especially popular in the southeast United States. It is a sterile hybrid which means that it does not occur naturally anywhere and is grown from root cuttings of other trees. The Leyland Cypress will reach heights of 130 feet with dark green color and very little fragrance. They are grown in much of the southeastern U.S.

Norway Spruce

This species is not native to North America but has been planted here in great numbers. In its native Europe the tree can reach heights of 215 feet, but in America it’s unusual for them to get taller than 130 feet. The Norway Spruce has dark green needles. Typically this is the type of tree used at Rockefeller Center in New York City. The Rockefeller Center tree must be at least 65 feet tall and 35 feet wide but it’s preferred that they are between 75 and 90 feet tall.

Scotch Pine

Here’s another species not native to North America that was introduced to the continent for use as Christmas trees. Scotch Pine trees appear in a variety of shades, from bright green to dark green and bluish green. The branches of the Scotch Pine are quite stiff, which makes them ideal for hanging ornaments. This tree will reach heights of 125 feet.

White Pine

This tree has soft, blue-green needles that appear in bundles of five, the only pine with five-needles that is native to North America. The White Pine grows to be the largest conifer in the east, reaching heights of 110 feet and living for up to 450 years. It’s found from Newfoundland in Canada as far west as Minnesota and south to northern Georgia.

White Spruce

With needle retention that is better than on most spruce trees, the White Spruce makes an excellent Christmas tree. It’s needles are green to blue-green in color. The White Spruce will reach 140 feet in height and can live up to 300 years. It’s native to a large portion of North America, from Newfoundland to Alaska and New England to the Great Lake states. The White Spruce is the state tree of South Dakota.

Most of the Christmas tree types we’ve described here are readily available through most of the United States. And while this is by no means an exhaustive list, chances are that if you look carefully you’ll find an example of several at your local Christmas tree lot.

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