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Which Christmas Tree is for you?

Updated on September 18, 2013

which choice of tree is right for your home?

Worldwide it seems like Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Scots Pine and Easter Cedar are the favourite choices for Yule and Christmas Trees. It is the Scotch Pine that surpasses them all in Europe, but in the USA the Douglas Fir in the North and Fraser Fir in the south seem to grasp the most popularity.

In most of the ancient legends about how the Christmas tree tradition came to us, it seems the Douglas Fir is what is most featured.

as told of in the legends.

In warmer countries, including the Holy Land, conifers are not a success. They grow too small so Cedars are the popular choice for their Christmas Trees.

In this Lens I will go through the trees that can be found growing at Christmas Tree farms in Europe, USA and around the world.

I hope these tips will guide you to finding and buying the tree for your festive time that is right for your home ....

after you have browsed here

please click here for my accompanying lens

of "Tales Of Ye Ol' Christmas Trees"

to enjoy an ancient insight into the Festive Tree traditions

Douglas Fir

Pseudotsuga menziesii

Douglas Fir is not a true fir but actually has its own unique classification. Cones on a Douglas fir hang downward while on real Firs they stick upwards. This tree was named after David Douglas who studied the tree in the 1800's

shape : dense cone-shaped tree

needles : 1 to 1-1/2 inch, flattened shape

colour : blue to dark green

aroma : sweet scent when crushed, very nice smelling tree

suited to : almost anywhere except extreme heat

lifespan : good retention, needles drop after 4 to 6 weeks

Balsam Fir

Abies balsamea

Balsam fir is a cold weather tree that has to have cold winters and cool summers.

The tree was named for the balsam or resin found in blisters on bark and which was used to treat wounds during the USA Civil War. The Resin is used to make microscope slides.

shape : good straight pyramid shape, end of branches point upwards

needles : ¾" to 1 ½", flat, rounded at the tip

colour : dark green with a silvery shadow

aroma : strong pleasant mythical wood smell

suited to : cooler to cold climates, does not like a constant hot room

lifespan : long lasting, 4 to 6 weeks indoors

Fraser Fir

Abies fraseri

Fraser fir is very similar to Balsam fir but enjoys a warmer climate. Even so, it naturally grows at elevations above 5,000 feet.

It was named for Scot botanist John Fraser who discovered the species while exploring the southern Appalachians in the late 1700's.

shape : pyramid shape, strong branches that turn upwards

needles : 1/2 to 1 inch long, flattened

colour : dark green

aroma : very pleasant fresh air floral smell

suited to : enjoys warmer climates, good in warm rooms

lifespan : 6 weeks or a lot longer

Scotch Pine

Pinus sylvestris

The most common Christmas tree choice in Europe.

shape : spacious between branches, sturdy stiff branches, can hold large heavy ornaments

needles : large wide needles about 1 inch long

colour : dark green

aroma : familiar pleasant nasal clearing that never weakens

suited to : anywhere except very hot

lifespan : needles stay on even if it goes brown within 4 to 6 weeks

Eastern Red Cedar

Junirperus viginiana

The Eastern Red Cedar is a favorite in warmer countries and states This is not a true cedar but a juniper.

shape : conical, branches very close together and light, tall crown can hold large star, angel or fairy

needles : shiny, quite sticky to touch

colour : dark green

aroma : sweet and calming

suited to : warm climates, warm rooms

lifespan : 2 to 3 weeks, needs frequent watering

Blue Spruce

Picea pungens

Blue Spruce is popular all year round as an addition or feature of ornamental landscapes.

Can live in nature for between 600-800 years.

shape : pyramid-conical shape, very stiff branches

needles : 1 to 3 inches long and very hard

colour : dark green to powdery blue

aroma : one of the least aromatic Christmas trees

suited to : most climates except very hot, best in cool hallway than hot room

lifespan : perfect as a living rooted tree for planting outside after festivities so could live many years, but as a cut tree about 6 weeks and only 3 or 4 weeks in a warm room

White Spruce

Picea glauca

White spruce is really an outdoor festive tree

shape : conical with rounded bottom, sturdy branches wide apart, can take quite heavy ornaments

needles : short and very hard

colour : green to bluish green

aroma : not pleasant if crushed

suited to : needs cool conditions, best suited as an outdoor Christmas tree

lifespan : several years if left planted outdoors but indoors as cut or rooted may only last a week or two

White Pine

Pinus strobus

White pine has been valued as a timber tree for centuries. It's wood is used in cabinets, interior finish and carving. Native Americans used the inner bark as food. Early colonists used the inner bark to make cough medicine.

shape : thin floppy branches, can only take light ornaments

needles : long soft 2 to 5 inches in bundles of five

colour : blue green

aroma : none, so it is popular with people with allergies

suited to : most climates indoors or out

lifespan : 6 to 10 weeks as a cut tree

Virginia Pine

Pinus virginiana

Virginia pine has only recently been used as a Christmas tree choice. .

shape : a bit mis-shaped conical, has to be trained during growing, quite thick branches, many of them in twisted pairs together, can take heavy ornaments with ease

needles : 1 ½" - 3" long

colour : dark green to grey

aroma : strong, fresh, disinfecting

suited to : happy in warm rooms

lifespan : 6 to 8 weeks after cutting

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Red Pine

Pinus resinosa

Often known as the "Norway Pine"

shape : big bushy tree, bit erratic in shape, droops with ornaments

needles : 4"-6" long

colour : dark green

aroma : pleasant fresh smell

suited to : most conditions but not hot rooms

lifespan : 4 to 6 weeks

Austrian Pine

Pinus nigra

A choice if you desire a wide more than tall tree

shape : wide with long branches, quite good with ornaments

needles : 4 to 6 inches long

colour : dark green

aroma : light fresh smell

suited to : most climates

lifespan : 6 to 8 weeks

Ponderosa Pine

Pinus ponderosa

A choice if you wish a tall tree and may be a better choice as a striking lovely colour outdoor than indoor tree.

shape : tall, barely conical a bit temperamental with ornaments

needles : 5" - 10" long.

colour : light green

aroma : light fresh earthy

suited to : outdoor displays

lifespan : several years if planted or potted outside, as a cut tree 6 to 10 weeks.

Afghan Pine

Pinus oldarica

shape : erratic conical with sturdy branches wide apart

needles : soft short

colour : rich green

aroma : mild

suited to : most climates and conditions

lifespan : 6 to 10 weeks

Grand Fir

Abies grandis

When allowed to fully mature outside, the Grand Fir is one of the tallest firs, reaching heights of 300 feet.

shape : tall slender conical tree, horizonal branches quite close together and quite strong.

needles : 1 to 1 1/2 inches long

colour : glossy dark green on top,, which lines on duller undersides

aroma : citrusy

suited to : most climates but not very hot rooms

lifespan : 4 to 6 weeks after cutting

Noble Fir

Abies procera

Noble fir is a tree of outstanding beauty. It's branches are very popular for making wreaths and garlands.

shape : erratic conical with short stiff branches with upturned needles, good for large and heavy ornaments

needles : one inch long

colour : blue-green, silvery underneath

aroma : subtle

suited to : modt climates and conditions

lifespan : 6 to 8 weeks from cutting

White/Concolor Fir

Abies concolor

Long needled fir that is sometimes mistaken for a pine. If allowed to mature and grow will live for about 350 years.

shape : quite dense conical

needles : 1 to 1-1/2 inches long

colour : blue green

aroma : refreshing citrus

suited to : moderate and warm rooms

lifespan : 6 to 8 weeks from cutting

Nordmann Fir

Abies nordmannia

One of the UK's favourite Christmas trees and a popular choice in parks too. It is a favourite wood for paper making.

shape : slender conical, sturdy branches

needles : ¾ to 11/2 inches long, flattened and without sharp points.

colour : dark green on top, silvery blue below

aroma : very slight disinfecting smell

suited to : most conditions

lifespan : 4 to 6 weeks when cut

Norway Spruce

Picea abies

Norway Spruce Christmas trees are extremely popular around Europe despite very poor needle retention with needles forming right after purchase.

shape : good conical shape with strong upper branch for large star, angel or fairy

needles : ½" - 1" long

colour : shiny dark green

aroma : very strong fresh woodland smell

suited to : cooler rooms

lifespan : 2 or 3 weeks, very poor needles retention that can be slowed down with cooler rooms and good watering

Black Hills Spruce

Pinus glauca var.densata

Beautiful; tree mainly used for outdoor landscaping much more than as a Chritmas Tree. Its sharp needles can make it an unsuitable indoor Christmas tree for families with young children.

shape : Excellent conical formation, close together sturdy branches, can take heavy ornaments, good as a small tree choice

needles : 1/3" to ¼" long and sharp

colour : green to blue green

aroma : subtle

suited to : outdoor Christmas trees, but is one that can be brought indoors as a live tree with roots and re-planted outside afterwards.

lifespan : holds needles well, about 6 to 8 weeks

Leyland Cypress

Cupress ocyparis leylandii

Recently becoming a very populat Christmas tree due to its light presence, easy maintenance and a delight to farmers who discover this is a fast grower so it can be lower cost for the buyer. Also popular due to having no affect on people with allergies.

shape : conical tree with feathery appearance that can be as wide, narrow, tall or short as you want, the light branches cannot take heavy ornaments

needles : soft

colour : dark green

aroma : light lemony scent, very comfortable for people who have allergies to other trees

suited to : all conditions and can put up with heat

lifespan : 8 to 10 weeks from cutting

Deodara Cedar

Cedrus deodara

Its name was derived from the Sanskrit* word 'devadara', meaning tree of the gods. Through Asia Deodara wood was used to build temples. In ancient Egypt Deodara wood was used to make coffins for mummies. A beautiful unique graceful tree for Christmas but usually not very easy to find as they are slow growers and difficult to propagate so not a favourite with Christmas Tree farms. Order from nurseries well in advance and maybe go for a replantable rooted tree.

shape : beautiful gentle pyramid shape with sturdy branches that flop at the ends.

needles : short

colour : blue green

aroma :

suited to : all conditions but keep watering light, too easy to over water this tree

lifespan : 8 to 10 weeks from cutting

Carolina Sapphire

Cupressus arizonica var. glabra

A very fast growing tree, populat with Christmas Tree farm and is a beautiful versatile tree

shape : dense beautiful conical shape, short space between branches

needles : hard needles

colour : blue, slight green

aroma : lemon and mint combo smell

suited to : warm rooms, likes heat, water sparsely

lifespan : 8 to 10 weeks from cut

what Festive Tree do you like to use?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This brought back so many memories for my childhood. We always had a real tree, and it had to be just the right one.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This brought back so many memories for my childhood. We always had a real tree, and it had to be just the right one.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great lens! I love the blue spruce myself. Blessed by a Squidoo Angel-Have a Merry Christmas!