Why Choose a Real Christmas Tree?
"Real trees are beneficial for the environment," he said. "For every tree that's harvested, they plant at least one (and often two) back. And this stabilizes the top soil and fields, and it creates wildlife habitat."
"Real trees can be reused and recycled," he continued. "They can be used as mulch, as fish habitat, and utilized for stream bank stabilization. And they decompose in just a matter of a few years. An artificial tree will lay in a landfill virtually forever."
Because of the variety of outlets, the cost for a real tree ranges between $25 and well over $100, with the average tree costing around $75 to $80.
The National Christmas Tree Association has information on a variety of Christmas tree species, but here are 10 of the best.
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Noble fir (Abies procera Rehd)
The Noble fir has inch-long silvery blue-green needles which point upwards, exposing the lower branches. Also, it has stiff branches so it supports heavy ornaments well. And is often used to make wreaths, Christmas garlands and door swags. This species retains its needles well, making it ideal for a home with small children or pets.
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Fraser fir (Abies fraseri)
The Fraser fir has a smart compact form, with well-defined branches and upward-growing needles that are retained well. And they are deep blue-green in color, and this species also has a lovely fragrance that fills the whole room.
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Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
The Douglas fir has dense foliage and a compact conical shape. And the needles (which are dark green or dark blue), can grow up to 1.5 inches in length, and radiate evenly around the branch. When crushed, the needles release a sweet fragrance.
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Balsam fir (Abies balsamia)
Each branch has a double row of needles which are openly spaced and range between 0.75 and 1.5 inches in length, making them perfect for supporting tree ornaments. And the needles are long-lasting. The Balsam fir is renowned for its lingering fragrance–its often used for stuffing pine pillows and sachets.
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Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens)
The foliage ranges from gray-blue to a silvery blue. The needles are about 1.5 inches long, but very sharp, (so not ideal choice for little fingers!), and emit an unpleasant odor when crushed. However, this is one of the best species for needle retention. And as the tree makes a good ornamental, it's becoming increasingly popular as a 'living Christmas tree.'
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White spruce (picea glauca)
Like the Blue spruce, the White spruce has needles that give off a pungent aroma when crushed, giving the species its common name of 'skunk spruce'. But it has superior needle retention to other spruces, and the needles are short, blunt and stiff (0.75 inches), making it ideal for hanging ornaments.
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Scots or Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris)
With its resilient branches, and needles that grow in double clusters and range between one and an impressive three inches in length. And this makes it one of the best choices for hanging both light and heavy ornaments. The Scots pine's durability makes it simple to replant, so you can use it as a living tree year after year.
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Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus)
This variety has little in the way of fragrance. But it reputedly causes fewer allergic reactions than other species, making it a good option for those with allergies. The needles are extremely long (up to five inches), but their flexible nature makes this tree unsuitable for hanging heavy ornaments. However, the needle retention is excellent.
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Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
Because it's from the Juniper family, it has soft, pliable leaves rather than needles. And this makes it less suitable for hanging heavy ornaments. The color range for this variety is astounding, including dark green, bluish green, silvery, gray-green, bronze and purple.
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Leyland cypress (Cupressus leylandii)
The leaves of the Leyland cypress are generally flat and its overall appearance is coarser and less traditional than other varieties. However, it's an especially good choice for those with sap allergies, because unlike the Spruce and Pine trees, it produces no sap.
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