There are several tree species used as Christmas trees, such as fir, pine, spruce, cypress, and cedar. For each of the main categories of Christmas trees, there are also different types among these. Additionally, there are many different varieties of artificial Christmas trees available.
The region plays a big part in the type of tree you can choose, but the most popular varieties tend to be balsam fir, Douglas fir, Scots pine, Virginia pine and white pine, mainly because of their ease of use. There are also fiber optic trees for those worried about fires or tree needles spreading across the ground.
When choosing a tree, there are many reasons to choose a real tree over an artificial one, beyond the fact that it fills the house with a pleasant fragrance. Real trees are very beneficial for the environment as they are biodegradable which means they can be used for many things once the holidays are over. For some people, going to the store to buy a fibre optic tree is much easier, especially since it can be stored and reused for years to come.
Types of natural Christmas trees
Tree: Grand Fir
Well, “big” is definitely a word for it! It’s no wonder this giant tree is native to the Pacific Northwest – it reaches an astounding height of 230 feet! You are guaranteed to enjoy the fresh aroma of its citrus-scented needles.
The name of this evergreen tree really says it all. Grand fir is a large tree native to the Pacific Northwest and northern California. These giants can grow up to 230 feet tall. The tall fir tree features two-tone needles with yellow-green hues and a white stripe under the needle. This tree produces beautiful thick foliage and gives off that wonderful spicy Christmas tree scent.
They are simply decorative. They have been stripped of the root for those who want to enjoy the natural Christmas tree but have nowhere to plant it afterwards. Sometimes the lack of roots is obvious at first glance; and, in others, we will have to read their labelling because many times they are planted in a pot like a rooted tree.
You’ll love the smell of Fraser Fir, but its durability is also a plus. Known for its pleasant fragrance, the yellow-green branches of the Fraser fir feature a conical shape with slightly upward-sloping branches. Fraser fir branches are also known to be very sturdy, making this Christmas tree a great option for heavy ornaments, Christmas wreaths, and holiday decorations.
Balsam fir is the most fragrant of trees, making it the most popular Christmas tree variety. They are durable and have short, flat, dark green needles. They dry out quickly, so be sure to check your water levels often. Fun fact: The tree got its name from the balsam, or resin, found in the blisters on the bark, which was used to treat wounds during the Civil War.
Canaan firs are often described as very similar to balsam firs, the Michigan State University Extension reports, but with the added retention of Fraser fir needles. “It’s a relative ‘new kid on the block’ compared to other Christmas tree species,” says Radin. “It has a dense pyramidal shape like Fraser and balsam fir, and its needles tend to curve upward.”
Fullest: Douglas Fir
A Douglas fir will make a statement in your home. This fir shows a complete pyramid shape with blue or dark green leaves that have one of the richest scents of all Christmas trees. The leaves of this evergreen tree are flat, smooth, and tend to grow in clusters. Douglas firs grow medium to extremely large in size anywhere up to 330 feet tall. Fun fact, Douglas fir makes up nearly half of all Christmas trees grown in the United States.
Douglas fir is one of the best-selling Christmas tree varieties in the US, thanks to its soft, sweetly scented needles and full shape. It is even exported to Hawaii!
Scots Pine/Scotch Pine
Scots pine (or Scots pine) is known for its darker green/teal color, which makes a statement in a living room. Also known as Scots pine, this pine is another common Christmas tree choice. Dark green foliage and stout branches equip Scots pine – perfect for lots of Christmas lights and decorations.
This pine can grow anywhere up to 115 feet tall. The needles vary in color from blue-green to a darker green in the winter months and grow in fascicles or clusters of two. Scots pine is also known for its long-term needle retention, which means less cleanup for you when Christmas is over. Fun fact, it is also the national tree of Scotland.
Virginia pine can be easily identified by its short, twisted needles that grow in pairs. This particular pine features short branches with dense foliage that responds well to pruning. The Virginia pine is known as a small to medium-sized tree that can grow anywhere to about 70 feet tall.
Don’t have a living room with a fifteen foot ceiling? Opt for the humble but vibrant Virginia pine. It is known for its smaller stature and shorter branches. The needles have a fun twisted look, grow in pairs, and don’t fall off easily.
The white pine features needles that grown in fascicles or bundles. With bluish-green hues and pointed tips, the branches of this Christmas tree are flexible and give off little to no aroma. This pine tree is not recommended for heavy ornaments or large decorations because the branches are not as strong. Fun fact, the white pine is the largest pine in the United States. Mature trees can live up to 400 years and grow to heights of about 230 feet tall.
The tree is known for its long, soft needles (that are exceptionally mild) and impressive stature.
It’s hard to miss this evergreen with its beautiful shade of blue. It is a popular Christmas tree because it rarely sheds its needles. But they are sharp, so be careful (but they do make a good pet deterrent!). The stiff branches hold ornaments well and have a perfect pyramid shape. Consider the colour of the tree when selecting decorations.
A western species, the Colorado blue spruce is known for its unique bluish-grey hue.
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