Christmas Tree Glossary

The Martha Stewart Show

Having a difficult time choosing what type of Christmas tree to get this year? Use this glossary to help you make your decision easier.

Fraser Fir
- It's a little blue in color, but the Fraser fir makes a great Christmas tree for its form, needle retention, pleasant scent and excellent shipping characteristics.
- Strong branches are turned slightly upward, which gives the tree a compact appearance.
- Bark is usually gray or gray-brown, thin and smooth.
- North Carolina produces the majority of Fraser fir Christmas trees.
- Fraser fir was named for John Fraser (1750-1811), a Scottish botanist who explored the southern Appalachian Mountains in the late 18th century.

Blue Spruce
- Colorado blue spruce, or blue spruce, is an attractive tree often used for Christmas trees or as ornamentals, particularly in the eastern United States and Europe.
- Blue spruce is finding increasing popularity as a Christmas tree as a result of its symmetrical form and attractive blue foliage. The species has an excellent natural shape and requires little shearing.
- Needle retention is among the best for the spruces. Its popularity as an ornament leads many consumers to use blue spruce as a living Christmas tree, to be planted after the holiday season.
- It is the official state tree of both Colorado and Utah.
- The species generally reaches a height of 65 to 115 feet at maturity with a diameter of 2 to 3 feet. It has a narrow, pyramid shape and cone-shaped crown. As trees become older, they often take on a more irregular appearance. Although blue spruce grows relatively slowly, it may reach ages of 600 to 800 years.
- Needles are 1 to 1 1/2 inches long on lower branches but somewhat shorter on upper branches. They are four-sided and have a very sharp point on the end.
- Needles are generally dull bluish-gray to silvery blue and emit a resinous odor when crushed. Some trees have a more distinct bluish-white or silvery-white foliage.

Balsam Fir
- As a Christmas tree, balsam fir has several desirable properties. It has a dark-green appearance, long-lasting needles, and attractive form.
- It also retains its pleasing fragrance.
- The scientific name "balsamea" is an ancient word for the balsam tree, so named because of the many resinous blisters found in the bark.
- Two silvery bands of stomata (pores) are found on the lower surface of the needles.

White Pine
- The white pine is a five-needle pine, meaning if you pull one of the fascicle bundles off, you can count five needles.
- White pine has very little aroma, but is reported to result in fewer allergic reactions than do some of the more aromatic species.
- White pine has proven to be one of the most important and most desirable species of North America.
- It's a truly magnificent tree attaining a height of 80 feet or more at maturity with a diameter of two to three feet.
- White pine is the largest pine in the United States. In colonial times, white pines above 24 inches in diameter were reserved for England to be used as ship masts.
- It is the state tree of Maine and Michigan.
- For Christmas trees, sheared trees are preferred, although some people feel shearing results in trees too dense for larger ornaments. Needle retention is good to excellent.

Douglas Fir
- Douglas fir is one of the most popular Christmas trees. It is shipped to the majority of the United States (including Hawaii), and is also exported to Guam and some Asian markets.
- The needles are dark green or blue green, 1 to 1 1/2 inches long, soft to the touch, and radiate out in all directions from the branch. They have a sweet fragrance when crushed.


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