Evergreen Specimen Guide


1. Silvertip Fir; 2. Subalpine Fir; 3. Fraser Fir; 4. Lodgepole Pine

With December just days away, we're preparing for one of our favorite holiday traditions-- choosing a Christmas tree. The nursery at terrain is stocked with evergreens of all shapes and sizes, and we recently snipped a branch from four of our favorite varieties, shown above. Read on to find out which tree is right for decking your halls this season.

Silvertip Fir: Found high atop the mountains of Oregon and California, Silvertip firs are a hard-to-get Christmas tree since they grow best at elevations of 4,000-8,000 feet. Their mature needles are a blue-green shade, but they're named for silvery new growth. Silvertips tend to be symmetrical in shape, with strong branches that spread from the trunk in rings. A simple branching structure and distinctive, large openings between branch layers make this variety an ideal tree for showing off your ornament collection.

Subalpine Fir: The Rocky Mountain fir is the true Subalpine fir, but this name is often used to describe several species, including the Douglas fir, Noble fir, Corbark fir, and White fir. As the species vary, the shape and color do as well. Common traits of all species include short, soft needles and large internodal spacing. A major component of high elevation forests, Subalpine firs grow at 8,000-12,000 feet and can be found up to the timber line. Those found at the highest elevations are sought after as Christmas trees, but are relatively rare due to harvesting challenges.

Fraser Fir: Primarily grown in North Carolina, the Fraser fir is one of the most popular Christmas trees on the East Coast thanks to great needle retention and a fresh, citrusy fragrance. Its needles are around half an inch long, with a dark green surface and silvery underside; Fraser fir branches grow upward, showing off this color combination. The Fraser fir is a great choice for those seeking a compact tree, because its needle length looks good in proportion to a smaller specimen.

Lodgepole Pine: Found in the Rocky Mountains at elevations of 7,000-10,000 feet, the Lodgepole pine is a straight, narrow variety that can reach up to 80 feet in height. Its long, curved needles are clustered near the ends of its branches, and are often a lighter, green-yellow shade compared to the color of other pines. With a stiff, very airy appearance, the Lodgepole pine makes for an unusual Christmas tree.

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