The Bugwood Network

Selection and Care of Christmas Trees for the Home

David Moorhead – Professor of Forestry, The University of Georgia

1990. Leaflet 416. Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, College of Agricultural and Enviromental Sciences, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602 U.S.A. (Revised 1997).

Common Christmas Tree Characteristics

Tree shape, height and foliage characteristics are important features to consider when selecting a tree. Common Christmas tree characteristics are:

The Parts of a Tree It's Branches and Needles
The parts of a tree. It's branches and needles.
Taper is the relationship of the tree's width to its height. The first tree has a 90 percent taper, with a width 90 percent of its height.

Christmas Tree Species

There is a variety of Christmas tree species to choose from. You can find most of these on retail

And It's Overall Shape
And it's overall shape.
lots or growing in your area on a choose-n-cut farm. Christmas trees can be identified by the size, color, and arrangement of their needles. The four common types of Christmas trees are pine, fir, spruce and cedar/cypress.


Needles are arranged in bundles of two to five, with a bundle sheath holding the bases of the needles together within each bundle.

Needle arrangement.

Virginia Pine - The Virginia Pine has yellow-green needles that are 1.5 to three inches long, arranged in bundles of two, and slightly twisted. These pines are grown throughout Georgia, are available on local retail lots and are the most common trees in Georgia choose-n-cut operations.

Scotch Pine - The Scotch Pine has needles that are 1.5 to 2.5 inches long and arranged in bundles of two, and scaly orange-red bark. These pines are grown throughout the mid west and northeast areas of the United States and are sold on retail lots.

White Pine - The White Pine has blue-green needles that are three to five inches long and arranged in bundles of five. These pines hold needles well but wilt noticeably. They are grown in central and north Georgia and throughout the Lake States, and are available from retail lots and on choose-n-cut lots in north Georgia.

Sand Pine - The Sand Pine has dark green needles that are two to 3.5 inches long and are arranged in bundles of two. These pines are similar to the Virginia Pine and are grown in south Georgia and Florida, and are available at choose-n-cut operations in the southeastern United States.

Quality Virginia Pine.

White Pine Union County.


Needles are arranged in rows, with one row on each side of a branch. The needles are flat and leave a small circular depressed scar on the branch when removed. The cones are upright.

Balsam Fir - The Balsam Fir has needles that are 1/2 to one inch long and are dark green on the top with two silver lines on the bottom. The buds are rounded, yellowish and coated with an aromatic resin. These firs are grown in Canada and the northeastern United States and are available at retail lots.

Cones, Needles, and Branches.

Bakam Fir Union County.

Fraser Fir.

Fraser Fir - The Fraser Fir is similar to the Balsam Fir, and is grown in the mountains of North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. These firs are available at retail lots.

Douglas Fir - The Douglas Fir is not a true fir. The needles are dark blue to yellow green and completely encircle the branches. The buds are pointed and reddish brown. These trees are grown in the Pacific Northwest and are available at retail lots.

Fir upright cones.

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Last updated on Tuesday, December 08, 2015 at 09:28 AM
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