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Selecting the Right Type of Christmas Tree

November 16, 2012
by  Jonathan Milbrodt, Collections Curator

When selecting a live Christmas tree, many people will only consider the price and overall look of a tree.  But looking a bit deeper and really comparing the different Christmas tree species available (Pines, Spruces, Firs) there are other things you may want to consider.

For example, do you know what kind of tree usually has stronger branches for heavy ornaments? Or which tree has softer needle tips to work with while decorating? Or what type of trees can hold their needles longer? It’s good to know the characteristics of the different types of trees and then decide what is most important for you.


Pine trees, such as the Scotch Pine or White Pine, are usually able to hold their needles better than most Spruces or Firs – even when the tree becomes too dry.  Typically, Pines can last longer inside you home without making as much of a mess. Sometimes Pines can be a bit cheaper as they tend to be less work for farmers to grow.  A drawback with Pines could be that the needles are a bit longer than Spruces and Firs, meaning they may not allow as much room between branches for ornaments or may even obscure them from view.


Fir trees, such as the Douglas Fir or Fraser Fir, are usually the easiest on your hands, meaning the needles are not as sharp like they are on the Pines and Spruces. So, a Fir might be a better choice for families with small children helping to hang ornaments.

Also, Firs are considered to be the most fragrant in your home. Unfortunately, the branches of Fir trees can be more flexible and not as strong as Spruces or Pines, so a Fir can get a bit more weighed down looking if you have a lot of ornaments or larger, heavy ones to hang.


Spruce trees, like the Colorado Spruce, have nice, strong branches that are better at holding heavier ornaments. It is also easier to hang ornaments, lights and garland on Spruce trees because of their shorter needles, unlike a Pine which has long needles. The drawback to a Spruce is that the needles are usually more poky and uncomfortable to work with when decorating.

Now you know the pros and cons with each different species, so be sure to select the best Christmas Tree for you this year!

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