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Real Christmas Trees
Why a real Christmas tree?Real Christmas trees are an all-American product, grown in all 50 states. Most artificial trees are manufactured in Korea, Taiwan, or Hong Kong. Real trees are a renewable, recyclable resource. Artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and metals; when disposed of, they will never deteriorate. Their effects on our environment are evident and will remain for countless generations. For every real Christmas tree harvested, 2 to 3 seedlings are planted in it's place. There are about 1 million acres in production for growing Christmas trees, with each acre providing the daily oxygen requirements of 18 people. That translates into oxygen for 18 million people every day. There are about 15,000 Christmas tree growers in the U.S., and over 100,000 people employed full or part time in the industry. There are approximately 5,000 choose and cut farms in the U.S.
The FirsWhy a Fir tree for your Christmas tree? The origin of the Christmas tree dates back to the early 700's in Germany. There, St. Boniface, a British monk preaching the Nativity to local Germans, toppled an oak tree to prove his point that the oak was not sacred and inviolable. The towering tree crushed everything in it's path except for a small fir sapling. St. Boniface interpreted the fir's survival as a miracle, concluding "Let this be called the tree of the Christ Child". Subsequent Christmases in Germany were celebrated by planting fir saplings. By the sixteenth century, fir trees, indoors and out, were decorated to commemorate Christmas in Germany. From Germany the custom spread throughout Western Europe, and it was the Pennsylvanian Germans who initiated the Christmas tree custom in America in the early 1800's. Therefore, historically speaking, the true, proper tree for your Christmas tree is the fir. Fir is a common name for a number of handsome evergreen trees that belong to the pine family. The fir's needles are softer and more blunt then the pine, and do not grow in clusters like pine, but are distributed evenly all around the branch. In many species the needles are dark green on top and lighter underneath.
Fraser FirThe Fraser Fir (Abies fraseri) is often referred to as the "Cadillac of Christmas trees". The Fraser Fir was named for John Fraser, a Scottish botanist who explored the southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina in the late 1700's. In many respects, the Fraser Fir and the Balsam Fir are quite similar; some botanists even suggest that the two were once the same species, differing only in their geographical dispersion. Fraser boughs support the heaviest ornaments. The Fraser Fir has soft, short needles (approx. 1") which have a deep green color on top and a silver-blue color underneath. The tree has springy branches that cascade downward, creating the perfect platform to work from when decorating your tree. The Fraser Fir is considered to be the best among all other types of Christmas trees in regard to needle retention, long lasting aroma, and it's ability to stay fresh throughout the holidays.
Douglas FirThe Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is one of the largest and most valuable timber trees in the world. This tree is the source of more lumber than any other single tree in North America. The Douglas Fir is a very traditional Christmas tree; considered the Christmas tree to most people. This fir is by far the most popular Christmas tree sold in the U.S. today. It is a soft-needled, very fine textured tree with many small branchlets growing from each branch. The needles generally hold well on the tree if properly taken care of (i.e. watered regularly). They are dark green or blue-green, 1 to 1 ½" long, soft to the touch and radiate out in all directions from the branch. They have a wonderfully sweet fragrance when crushed. Branches will hold most ornaments though if very heavy, try to choose a tree with stiffer branches. The Douglas Fir has been a major Christmas tree species since the 1920's, and the top seller at Braun's Tree Farm because of its color, symmetrical form and its ability to hold it's needles for a very long time.
Concolor FirThe Concolor Fir (Abies concolor) also commonly known as the White Fir, is native to the Western U.S. and can be found from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and New Mexico to the Coast Range in California and Oregon. This impressive tree may reach sizes of 130-150 ft. in height and 3 to 4 ft. in diameter. The oldest Concolor Firs may occasionally reach 350 years of age. The Concolor Fir grows further south than any North American fir species and is also the most drought tolerant. This later trait may be the reason it has the best needle retention of any species commonly grown for Christmas trees. In addition, the Concolor's needles are longer than most firs - averaging 2-3" in length and are quite soft while retaining enough stiffness for ornament holding. The needles are blue-green with an underside of washed-out white and, when bruised, give off a distinctive fragrance that is a mix of evergreen and citrus scents. The overall impression is that of a very dense, full Christmas tree with a unique color, superior fragrance and outstanding needle retention. For all these reasons, the Concolor Fir is quickly replacing the Fraser Fir as the 'must have' tree among our most discerning Christmas tree connoisseurs.
Balsam FirThe Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea), as first described in 1798, is a medium-sized tree generally reaching 40-60 feet in height and 1 - 1 1/2 feet in diameter. It exhibits a relatively dense, dark green pyramidal crown with a slender spire-like tip. The scientific name "balsamea" is an ancient word for the balsam tree, so named because of the many resinous blisters found in the bark. Balsam fir and Fraser fir have many similar characteristics, although geographic ranges of the two species do not overlap. 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.
Canaan FirThe Canaan Fir (Abies balsamea var. phanerolepis) is a relative newcomer to the Christmas tree market. It has many similarities to both the Fraser and Balsam firs in growth and appearance. Canaan fir is so-named because several of the original trees were identified from a limited area in West Virginia, generally referred to as the Canaan Valley. Taxonomically, Canaan fir is considered the same as bracted Balsam fir; however, growth traits of the trees from the southern regions are somewhat different from other bracted Balsam fir. Scientifically speaking, it is not currently considered a separate species. Because it is so similar to the Balsam fir and Fraser fir, it's Christmas tree characteristics are the same - i.e. see Fraser fir and/or Balsam fir for color, needle traits etc.
The SprucesWhy a Spruce tree for your Christmas tree? Spruces are more closely related to the firs than to any other cone-bearing tree. However, spruces have cones that hang straight downward vs. firs that have cones that stand straight up. Spruce foliage is also different from that of the firs in that the fir needles are flat and will not roll between your fingers, while spruce needles are square to round and will roll. They are stiff and slightly curved and give off a sharp pungent order when crushed. Most spruce tree needles are 4-sided and less than 1" long. The strong, slender twigs which hold ornaments well, the dense foliage and symmetrical proportions of the spruce make it a very beautiful Christmas tree. The spruce needs lots of water however, and must be watered regularly to prevent it from losing it's needles. Spruce trees grow tall and most are shaped like pyramids. Thus, the less-expensive spruce has some of the desirable features of the more costly firs, and the added advantage of stiff branches (great for ornaments) and almost perfect conical shape.
NOTE: If you plan on utilizing a Spruce for your Christmas tree, we recommend waiting until 2 weeks prior to Christmas to getting it. It is a simple truth that any Spruce tree will dry out quicker and lose its needles sooner than either the firs or the pines. A Spruce, once cut, will stay fresh for only about 2 weeks. After that period, needles will be raining down on your presents!
Blue SpruceThe Blue Spruce (Picea pungens glacua) is native to Colorado, and thus is often called the Colorado Blue Spruce. It has a beautiful conical shape with blue-green needles that give the tree a frosty bluish tint. Needles are short (approx. 1") and prickly and will remain on the tree for more than a month. Very stiff branches will take very heavy ornaments. Blue Spruce is not a compatible species with the firs, pines and other conifers grown on this farm. They are therefore grown on a nearby farm of ours, fresh-cut daily and brought to this location for your convenience. Blue Spruce, though not traditional, is becoming a more popular Christmas tree, primarily because of it's excellent shape and unique blue tint.
White SpruceThe White Spruce (Picea glacua) is very similar to the Blue Spruce in that it has a beautiful shape, short needles and stiff branches. However, this spruce is light green in color and resembles the Fraser firs (except with prickly needles). Needle retention is equal to the Blue Spruce, but less so than the pines or firs. For those allergic to the pine scent, these trees may be a substitute as they lack the distinctive fragrance of the pines, firs and other spruces (though they do have an unusual fragrance of their own). White Spruce is the most valuable of the many varieties of spruce and is much sought after by pulp and paper companies. They grow between Bering Strait on the north, and Maine, New York and Michigan on the south. The trees grow west to British Columbia and Montana.
Serbian SpruceThe Serbian Spruce (Picea omorika) is native to Southeastern Europe and has been planted widely in the Northeastern United States. It is one of the most graceful and beautiful of the spruces. It has a slender trunk and short drooping branches; no other spruce grows or remains as narrow. Noted for its excellent foliage, the needles are ½" - ¾" long, are glossy green on top and have a silvery backside. The graceful Serbian spruce is relatively new to Christmas tree farms but is growing in popularity because, like the White Spruce, it's beautiful shape, short needles and stiff branches make it an ideal ornament tree.
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