A Christmas tree is a Christmas tree, right? Maybe not …

There are literally dozens of different kinds of trees being marketed as Christmas trees. Popular Christmas tree types include several varieties of firs, spruce, juniper, cypress and pines. What tree you should buy depends a lot on the specific characteristics you are looking for. The descriptions below should help you decide what Christmas tree type you should be looking for.

Popular types of cypress sold at Christmas include the Arizona cypress and the Leyland cypress. The Arizona cypress is a tree shaped somewhat like a steeple with a pleasant scent and tiny leaves ranging in color from a pale green to greenish-gray color. The Leyland cypress is actually a hybrid of the Monterey Cypress & Alaskan Cedar. The Leyland cypress most commonly used as a Christmas tree is called a Leighton Green and is a dark green tree with a heavy, solid appearance.

There are several firs on the list. Though they are all in the fir family, they each have their own characteristics. The Balsam Fir is a dark green tree with a pleasing odor and long-lasting needles. It has a slightly pyramid-like shape and is topped by a thin tip. The Canaan fIr , also called the Blue Ridge fir, is a lesser known fir that is gradually growing in popularity. The Fraser fir is a compact-looking, dark green tree with a pyramid type shape. It is sometimes called a Southern Balsam fir. The Grand fir is sold mainly in Montana and Idaho, but is also found in Washington state and Oregon. The Concolor or White fir has blue-green to duller green needles that tend to stay on the tree long after it is cut. The tree is naturally well-shaped, with a pleasant odor. It’s strong aroma and thick foliage make it a beautiful Christmas tree. The Noble fir has a lovely, symmetrical appearance, with stiff branches and needles that appear to be are a bluish-green but appear almost silver. The Noble fir is one of the most long-lasting of cut Christmas trees and is also used in wreathes and door swags.

Though the Norway spruce, White spruce and the Colorado Blue spruce are all sold as Christmas trees, both the Norway and White spruce has some drawbacks. In spite of the needles lovely dark green color, the needles of the Norway spruce have a tendency to fall off quickly after the tree is cut unless the tree is kept well-watered. And while the White spruce has a lovely appearance and better needle retention than it cousin the Norway spruce, but it’s short, bluish-green needles have an unpleasant odor, if crushed. Of the three spruce trees commonly sold around Christmas, the Colorado Blue spruce is probably the best choice. It’s symmetrical cone-shape and beautiful bluish-gray to silvery-white color naturally lends itself to becoming a centerpiece to the holiday season. Since the tree is so lovely, many people choose to purchase a live tree and transplant it after the holidays.

Once a favorite for many southern families and still the choice of many of the “cut your own” Christmas tree farms is a member of the juniper family. Though called the Eastern Red cedar, this tree is not actually a cedar, but instead is closely related to the Rocky Mountain juniper. A compact, cone-shaped tree, the color found in the Eastern Red cedar runs the gamut from dark or bluish green to a gray or silvery green to bronze.

Three varieties of pine trees are routinely sold as Christmas trees. The Eastern White pine has soft, bluish-green or silvery-green needles. Many times White pines are “sheared” resulting in an overly dense tree that makes decorating more difficult. In spite of this, many people continue to choose the White pine, in part due to it’s lack of a strong scent and tendency to produce fewer allergic reactions than trees that produce more of an aroma. A staple of Christmas tree lots since the Christmas tree industry’s beginning is the Virginia pine, however it’s cousin the Scotch pine is perhaps the most widely grown and sold Christmas tree in the United States. A hardy little tree, it’s dark green, well-retained needles and stiff branches make it easy to decorate, even with heavy ornaments. It is more forgiving than most other Christmas trees – even if allowed to dry out the Scotch pine will hold it’s needles longer than other trees and if properly watered the tree will stay beautiful for up to four weeks, allowing you to enjoy it throughout the Christmas season.

Another popular Christmas trees is the Douglas fir. Even though this tree is called a fir, it is actually not a true fir at all. One of the most widely marketed of all Christmas trees, it’s dark green (sometimes blue-green) needles are soft and lush, radiating from the tree’s branches in all directions. This thick, luxurious appearance, as well as the needles pleasing fragrance are the reasons for this tree’s popularity.

Whatever Christmas tree types you are looking for, remember that almost any Christmas tree will be beautiful with a few decorations and some tinsel.

by Sherry Law