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When deciding to purchase a real Christmas Tree, there are several varieties available on the market and it is important to know the positives and negative of each one so you can make an informed choice and enjoy the tree you choose.
The Nordman Fir (abies nordmanniana) is currently the most popular variety of Christmas Tree sold in the UK and across Europe. It has long, glossy, deep green needles that are soft and flexible to the touch. The natural growth habit is a bushy tree that can be as wide as it is tall. However, modern pruning techniques are seeing the shape of this tree contantly evolving so that premium trees are now full of foliage and more uniform in shape with a narrower overall width. This variety does not have a strong fragrance, but it has excellent needle retention properties making it an ideal choice for an indoor Christmas Tree.
The Norway Spruce (abies picea) is the traditional Christmas Tree. This is the variety most of us grew up with and have memories of finding needles long after the tree has been discarded. This variety is relatively easy to grow commercially but is not as profitable due to their limited popularity. Therefore it is not always easy to find good quality. The Norway Spruce has short, thin, non glossy needles that are quite sharp to the touch. They also have very poor needle retention when taken indoors. However, they have the traditional Christmas Tree smell that many people know and love. Not the best choice if you have small children or pets, these trees are however ideal for use outdoors where the needle retention is not effected. You will often see large examples of these trees in you local town centres during the Christmas period.
The Fraser Fir (abies fraserii) is one of the more recent additions to the UK Christmas Tree market. However, these are the main variety of choice in America and a good Fraser is a beautiful tree. The problem currently in the UK is that the Fraser is not an easy tree to grow and the quality is not always easy to find. Having said that, a number of growers have, over recent years perfected their techniques and the overall quality is now on the increase. Unfortunately, planting of this variety are not high and therefore it is not likely to be a widely available as the nordman in the foreseeable future. The Fraser fir has a dense upright growth habit with blue green, glossy, soft needles that are silver on the underside. The needle retention is very good and it has a lovely citrus aroma. This variety is naturally slim in habit and is ideal for smaller spaces.
The Noble Fir (abies noblis) is often referred to as the King of Christmas Trees. Soft, deep green needles, with a wonderful citrus aroma and fantastic needle retention. Unfortunately, this variety is not easy to grow. Therefore, many growers will not plant this variety and of those that do, many do not make the premium quality grade. If you can find a good one, give a go, you will not be disappointed.
Scots / Lodgepole Pine
The Lodgepole Pine (pinus contorta) and the Scots Pine (pinus sylvestris) offer an alternative to the traditional Fir and Spruce varieties. If you have found you have a allergy to the firs, try a pine, people tell us they are a great alternative. The pine varieties have very long soft needles and are more open in the centre of the tree. You either love or hate them!