How To: Choose a Real Christmas Tree

Pin it button
Sadly, we can't partake in the joys of bringing home a live, fragrant Christmas tree because of Emily's allergies, but that doesn't mean we're not warm to the tradition of going out and bringing back home a tree for the holidays. There's always something wonderful seeing cars on the road returning home with a tree ontop, with children in the back (or sometimes equally enthused adults up front), notably excited with plans to decorate home with a living symbol of the holidays. But how to pick out the right tree? Some tips below...A quick "freshness test" to remember when shopping for a tree: take hold of a branch and pull your hand gently toward you. If needles fall off easily, skip this tree. Needle resiliency is an important indicator of overall tree health and how long the tree may have been sitting in the lot.

Alongside reviewing the colour of the tree (careful to note that lot trees might have been artificially "enhanced"), another quick physical test you can perform while shopping is to lift the tree about 6" off the ground and let it fall from your hand on it's cut end. If needles fall, skip it. Lastily, give your prospective Christmas tree a sniff or two; it should be fragrant and fresh smelling (think of it like picking out produce).

This Old House posted a comprehensive and helpful list of trees specific to regions, insuring the tree you choose hasn't traveled too far and will have a greater chance of being healthy and compatible with the weather in your area:

West:

  • Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca)
  • Noble fir (Abies procera)
  • Concolor fir (Abies concolor)
  • Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)

Northeast:

  • Balsam fir (Abies balsamea)
  • Fraser fir (Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poir.)
  • Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens Engelm.)
  • Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karsten)
  • White spruce (Picea glauca)
  • Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)
  • White pine (Pinus strobes)
  • Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris)
  • Austrian pine (Pinus nigra)

Mid-Atlantic region:

  • Fraser fir (Abies fraseri)
  • white pine (Pinus strobes)
  • Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris)
  • Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana)

Midwest (from the Great Lakes down to the Ohio River):

  • Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca)
  • Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris)
  • white pine (Pinus strobes)
  • Austrian pine (Pinus nigra)
  • Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens Engelm.)

Nebraska/Oklahoma:

  • Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris)
  • white pine (Pinus strobes)
  • Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens Engelm.)
  • Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca)

South:

  • Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica var. arizonica)
  • Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda)
  • Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris )
  • Sand pine (Pinus clausa)
  • Spruce pine (Pinus glabra)
  • Shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata)

Rocky Mountain region:

  • Austrian pine (Pinus nigra)
  • Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris)
  • White pine (Pinus strobes)
  • Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)
  • Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens Engelm.)

Pacific Northwest:

  • Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca)
  • Noble fir (Abies procera)

[Creative Commons Image: Ralph Hockens]

3 Comments