When I was younger, and it came time to select the perfect Christmas tree, we had one choice–the Balsam fir. Although this is still the number one tree sold in New England, today the selection is very different and our choices more numerous. Let me tell you about these trees and then you can select wisely.
The Balsam Fir
Needles lie flat on each side of the branch and the branch is thickly covered with needles. The needle is dark green on top and pale green on the bottom. Needles are an inch long and, when crushed, are VERY fragrant. Your entire home will smell like the great outdoors. Branches are stiff but will bend with the weight of lights and ornaments. Ornaments are easily displayed, as the branches spread out and open up the tree to show inside to the trunk. Balsam fir has long lasting color, fragrance and freshness.
A new hybrid of the Balsam fir. Needles are flat and surround the branch, not just on the sides. The top of the needles is very dark green, while the underside is silver. Needles are an inch long and have some fragrance to them. The tree is much fuller than the traditional Balsam fir. The branches are stiff but will bend some with the weight of the lights and ornaments. When it is heavily sheared, ornaments lie on the side of the branches as the tree does not open up as much. Fraser fir has the best color of all trees with the dark green top and silver underside. Fragrance good in the room it’s in.
Flat needles on each side of the branch like the Balsam but longer–1.5 to 2 inches long. The branches are thick with needles; they are dark green on top and silver green on the underside. There is a little bit of fragrance but not like the Balsam fir. Branches are very flexible and decorate easily but heavy ornaments pull down branches easily. Tree has a weeping appearance, unusual and beautiful. Like all fir trees, it’s long lasting, has good color and is fresh looking. Look for tags on the branches to see where it was grown. If grown on the West coast and you had temperatures 20 degrees or colder, do not buy it. West coast grown trees will shed needles when they hit the heat in your home.
Once very popular in the Midwest but due to insect problems and disease there are fewer and fewer trees grown each year. It grows very upright and the branches are stiff. Lights and ornaments lie on the side of the tree as branches bend very little. Needles are 2 inches long and blue green, with a silver underside. Not much of a fragrance but will last in the house longer than most trees.
Very soft looking with pale green needles 3 to 4 inches long. Trees are sheared heavily and I think it is difficult to decorate, as branches are soft and ornaments fall off easily. Dries up faster than the fir family, as needles are thin and soft. It’s beautiful to look at, but the tree will not last long in a warm room.
From the West Coast, this is a tree that we should all try at one time. Stems are filled with one inch long needles that are rounded on the tip. Several layers of silver green needles on the branches, and they are just beautiful. Branches spaced about 6 inches apart, almost like layers on the tree, so ornaments can dangle on branches and display beautifully. No real fragrance but this tree will not shed needles–yes, it will not shed! When dry, it maintains its color.