Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Christmas Tree Celebrities

Originally, I was going to post this closer to Christmas but this cold and snowy weather has me thinking about the holiday season...

Top Five Trees for Christmas
(Reprinted with permission from BC Council of Garden Clubs The Bulletin, November/December 2010 issue) http://www.bcgardenclubs.com/

The following Christmas Tree species have been voted and ranked as the most popular Christmas trees grown and sold in the US.  The poll is based on the ten most common trees available for purchase.  They are ranked according to the poll popularity.

The National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) reports that millions of US families plan to focus their holiday traditions around a real Christmas tree.  That means that a lot of real trees will be sold this year, starting in mid-November.  NCTA also says that "about 23% of the consumers will purchase their trees from a 'Christmas tree farm' while about 62% will buy trees from a retail lot."  About 300,000 consumers will purchase their real tree over the internet or by mail order.

It is estimated that just as many households plan to use a new or used artificial tree this season.  Real trees are in major competition with the plastic and aluminum versions.

Number 1 is the Fraser Fir.  The Fraser fir is a native southern fir and very similar to Balsam fir.  Some say it is a southern extension of the Balsam fir species and naturally grows at elevations about 5,000 feet.  this fir has dark green needles, 1/2 to 1 inch long and ships well.  The tree has excellent needle retention along with a nice scent.  Fraser fir was named for Scot botanist, John Fraser, who explored the southern Appalachians in the late 1700's. 

Number 2 is the Douglas Fir.  The Douglas Fir is not a true fir but actually has its own unique classification.  Unlike true firs the cones on Douglas fir hang downward.  Douglas fir grows cone-shaped naturally, has 1 to 1 1/2 inch needles that are persistent and has a sweet scent when crushed.  the Douglas fir tree is shipped to and found in nearly every tree lot in the US.  The tree was named after David Douglas who studied the tree in the 1800's.

Number 3 is the Balsam Fir.  The Balsam Fir is a beautiful pyramidal tree with short, flat, long-lasting, aromatic needles.  Balsam Fir and Fraser Fir have many similar characteristics and some botanists consider them extensions of the same species.  Their geographic ranges do not overlap and the Balsam Fir has to have cold winters and cool summers.  Balsam Fir has a nice, dark green colour and are very fragrant.  The tree was named for the balsam or resin found in blisters on the bark and which was used to treat wounds in the Civil War. 

Number 4 is the Colorado Blue Spruce.  The Colorado Blue is the most familiar to people as an ornamental landscape tree.  the tree has dark green to powdery blue needles, 1 to 3 inches long and a pyramidal form very often sold "living" and with an entire root ball - to be planted after the holidays.  the spruce was chosen in 1978 and planted as the official living White House Lawn Christmas tree.  The young tree is pleasingly symmetrical, is best among species for needle retention and the state tree of both Utah and Colorado.

Number 5 is the Scotch or "Scots" Pine.  This pine is the most planted commercial Christmas tree in North America according to NCTA.  However, this survey does not suggest that it is the most popular.  a true pine, Scots pine was imported from Europe and is not native to America.  It was first used in reforestation efforts in the New World.  Scotch pine tree has stiff branches, two bundled dark green needles 1 to 3 inches long that are retained for four weeks.  the aroma is long-lasting and lingers through the entire season.  Scotch pine does not drop needles when dry - excellent retention. 

What's your personal favourite?

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