Types and Varieties of Christmas Trees
What you consider to be a Christmas tree, can vary significantly. A person's
vision what is the perfect Christmas tree, varies by region of the country,
as well as your family traditions. For example, if Blue Spruce trees are
popular in your area, and your family always used a Blue Spruce as a Christmas
tree during your childhood, chances are a Blue Spruce is your idea of the
perfect Christmas tree. But, suppose you move to an area of the country where
Scotch Pines are prevalent, you just might discover Blue Spruce trees are
hard to find, or not even available. As a result, you may find scotch pines
or another variety, becomes the traditional tree in your new home.
There are virtually dozens of varieties of trees, that are used as Christmas
trees. Each one is a favorite to someone. The vast majority of Christmas
trees are categorized into three groups: Fir, Pine, and Spruce trees.
Occasionally, even cypress and some cedars have been used as a Christmas
Balsam Fir is perhaps the least expensive of Christmas trees. Early American
settlers first identified these trees around 1768.
It is a more slender tree, with dense, dark green needles. People love the
very strong fragrance. The needles are long lasting. The tree bark is smooth,
and ash gray.
Balsam Fir is very popular as a Christmas tree, reaching a height of 6-7
feet in about 9-10 years. Left alone, Balsam Fir trees grows to 40' - 60'.
Douglas Fir trees are one of the most popular, and most expensive Christmas
trees on the market. The tree is wider than most Christmas trees. The branches
are less sturdy than most other varieties. Douglas-fir is not related to
The tree has 1" - 1 ½" needles. The needles are soft, dark green to
blue green in color, with a sweet scent when crushed. The attractive needles
are stay on the tree longer than most other trees.
These trees reach Christmas tree size in 7-10 years. Aside from use as Christmas
trees, Douglas Firs have a variety of wood and lumber uses. Left uncut, it
can grow up to 250 feet tall, and can live up to 1,000 years. It can even
survive some wildfires.
Fraser Fir trees have attractive ½" - 1" long, blue-green needles, with
bluish silver undersides, on up-turning branches. The tree has good needle
retention and have a sweet fragrance. Trees have a uniform, compact, and
pyramid shape. They grow up to 80 feet. Fraser firs are similar to Balsam
In the 18th century, botanist John Fraser, a Scottish botanist and explorer,
explored the southern Appalachian Mountains and discovered these trees which
now bear his name
Fraser Fir is a uniformly pyramid-shaped tree, which reaches a maximum height
of about 80 feet and a diameter of 1 to 1 1/2 feet. Strong branches are turn
slightly upward, giving the tree a compact appearance.
These trees grow to 6-7 feet Christmas tree size in 7-10 years.
Grand Firs are one of the tallest of fir trees, growing up to 300 feet tall.
It is native of Northwestern U.S., northward into British Columbia, Canada.
Needles of the Grand Fir are 1 to 1 1/2 inches long. They are glossy, dark
green with white lines on the underside.
Grand Firs are not overly popular as Christmas trees, except in their native
The attractive Noble Fir is native to the Pacific Northwest, where they are
very popular as Christmas trees. The tree has upward turning needles, exposing
sturdy branches that can easily hold your heavier ornaments. The needles
are one inch long and blue-green in color, with white lines on the underside.
In the forest, these pyramid shaped trees can grow 12" to 24" a year, reaching
a height of up to 100 feet. It produces large, heavy cones. The trees can
be found from northern California to Oregon and Washington state.
Also called "White Fir", the beauty of the Concolor Fir and good needle
retention, makes it an excellent Christmas tree. It is native to the
western United States. Mature tress are normally 30'-50', but can reach up
to 150' tall.
Concolor Firs have small, narrow needles, 1 - 1 ½ in. in length and
occur in rows. The needles are bluish green to silvery green, and extend
upward from the branches. The tree has a pleasant scent.
Also called Eastern Pine, the White Pine is the largest of the pines in the
U.S. It has soft, pliable bluish-green needles. The long, soft needles are
2 ½ to 5 inches long, with good needle retention. Branches are not good
for heavy ornaments.
The tree reaches up to 80 feet tall at maturity, and can grow up to 24 inches
White Pines reach Christmas tree size in 6-8 years. Trimming made be needed
to help produce a bushier shape.
Scotch Pine trees are one of the most popular Christmas trees in America.
It is also called "Scots Pine".
Scotch Pines are native to Eurasia. They are hardy, fast growing and easy
to grow. Mature trees can grow up to 150 feet tall. The branches grow wide.
Yearly pruning helps to create the perfect, dense or bushy, Christmas tree
Dark green needles are approximately 1 inch long. Needle retention is excellent,
even as the tree dries out.
About the only knock to Scotch pines, is their trunks tend to grow crooked.
Prior to purchase, examine the trunk carefully, to be sure it is straight.
Scotch Pine trees reach Christmas tree size in 6 to 8 years.
Virginia Pine trees are prolific in the southeastern area of the country.
With a strong, classic scent, they are the Christmas tree of choice for the
vast majority of people in this region.
The straight trunk has lots of sap. Strong sturdy branches are perfect for
your heavy ornaments. This dense tree has twisted, 1 1/2 to 3 inch needles,
growing in pairs from the branches. Dark green needles turn yellowish during
Trimming the tree yearly, helps to produce a dense, shapely tree. This fast
growing tree, can reach Christmas tree size in just 3-6 years. In the forest,
Virginia pine trees grow to a little over 100 feet tall.
Their trunks tend to grow crooked. Prior to purchase, examine the trunk
carefully, to be sure it is straight.
Colorado Blue Spruce
The Colorado Blue Spruce is a popular Christmas tree choice in the western
areas of the country. It has a full, attractive, slightly pyramid shape,
with good needle retention. It is a good choice, especially in limited horizontal
spaces or small rooms.
Sharp, fragrant needles grow 1 to 1 ½ inches long. The needles are bluish
or silver in color.
The Colorado Blue Spruce is a slow growing tree. Mature trees reach up to
75 feet tall, and can live 600-800 years.
Attractive Norway Spruce trees are native to Europe, where they are extremely
popular. Their beauty caused people to bring them to the New World, where
they are primarily found from Northeastern U.S. to Southeastern Canada.
Norway Spruce trees have dark green needles on drooping branches. The needles
are ½ to 1 inch long, and are sharp pointed. Needle retention is fair
Norway Spruce trees reach Christmas tree size in 8 to 11 years. Mature trees
can reach over 200 feet tall.
The White Spruce is a beautiful, shapely tree. It has a wide native range,
from Alaska in the Northwest, all the way into the Great Lakes region. These
trees grow up to 140 feet tall, and have long lives, up to 300 years.
Did You Know? White Spruce is the state tree of South Dakota.
White Spruce are popular as Christmas trees. The sturdy branches and short
needles, make them an excellent tree for hanging ornaments. The needles are
short and stiff with a blunt tip, just ½ to ¾ inches long. Needle
retention is better than other spruce varieties. The bluish-green needles
have an unpleasant aroma, if crushed. As a result, it's nickname is the "Skunk
the Perfect Christmas Tree