Everyone’s Favorite Christmas Tree Species, and a few Buying Tips

Homestead recently received over 1,000 fresh cut Christmas trees, standing from 3 to 14 feet tall.   Here are the species we carry, all favorites for this special purpose.

First are the Fraser firs, which happen to have been voted America’s #1 Christmas tree.  It’s a perennial favorite at the White House, too (seen above on the South Lawn).  A 19-foot Fraser fir was recently delivered recently to great excitement, no doubt. 

Fraser firs are a native southern fir and like elevations above 5,000 feet.  They have a nice scent and dark green needles, 1/2 to 1 inch long that are retained on the tree very well. Fraser firs are named for Scot botanist John Fraser who explored the southern Appalachians in the late 1700’s.

Next and voted #2  as a Christmas tree is the Douglas fir.  It’s a beautiful, full dark green to blue variety. It holds its needles well and is very fragrant.  It’s not,  however, a true fir but has its own unique classification. (Unlike true firs, the cones on Douglas fir hang downward.)  The trees naturally grow into nice pyramid shapes, and their 1 to 1-1/2 inch needles are also persistent on the tree.  Douglas firs were named after David Douglas ,who studied the tree in the 1800’s.

We also carry Noble Fir, a species that’s loved for its upturned, blue-green needles and evenly spaced layered look.   A classic Christmas tree!  It hails from the Pacific Northwest.   It’s the tallest of any of the true fir species, growing to as tall as 230 feet. 

Noble fir is a great Christmas tree because of its beauty, stiff branches and long life indoors.  They represent about a third of the fresh Christmas tree market in the Pacific Northwest and are a major source of cut greens, too.

Balled and Burlapped for Growing In-Ground

Sometimes called “live” trees, balled and burlapped trees are indeed live and can be kept alive in the ground indefinitely.  (Fresh cut trees are also alive but won’t be for long.)  Here are the species we offer that serve as both outdoor Christmas trees and year-round addition to the garden.

Shown above are White Pines, which retain their blue green needles throughout the holiday season and make a very full Christmas tree.  They’re a good choice for people who have allergic reaction to the fragrant trees, since white pines have no scent.  Pretty glorious here in their natural setting.

Other species we have in balled-and-burlapped form include the Norway spruce, shown on the right, and also Blue spruce.

Buying Tips

Choose the spot for your tree, and measure the ceiling there.  Also, take note whether the tree will be seen from all sides or just one or two.  If it’s up against a wall it doesn’t need to be perfectly symmetrical.

In choosing your tree, look for one with a straight base which is at least 6 inches long so you can make a fresh cut and still have room to fit it it into your stand.

For freshness, look for the greenest tree with the fewest brown needles.

Many shoppers perform the “drop test” by raising the tree a few inches and dropping it on its butt end. Green needles should not drop off. If they do, you have a tree with excessive drying and that may have been cut for some time.  A few inner brown needles will drop off but that’s normal – don’t be concerned about it.

Another check is to take hold of a branch and lightly pull your hand toward you allowing the branch to slip through your fingers. Most, if not all, of the needles need to stay on the tree.

 Coming next: care of your Christmas tree.

Photo credits:   White House fraser fir,Douglas fir,.  Noble firwhite pine, Norway spruce. 

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