What You Need to Know About Live Christmas Tree Varieties

Let’s take a look at the local Christmas tree varieties.

We are in prime Christmas tree picking season, and if you need some help picking out the perfect tree for your needs, you’re in the right place!

We’ve gathered the highlights of the fir, pine and spruce trees native to Wisconsin and two popular but non-native trees.

With this guide, you can weigh what’s most important to you in a tree and head over to a local tree farm or lot to get yours.

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Trees Native to Wisconsin:

Balsam Fir

ABIES BALSAMEA

If you’re looking for the “perfect” Christmas tree shape, the Balsam Fir might be your go-to. Deep green in color, it is found primarily in Northern Wisconsin, and has a very dense bottom and evenly comes to a tip at the top. It can be identified by its flat needles and upwards pointing cones. This tree also keeps its lovely smell throughout the Christmas season.

White Pine

PINUS STROBUS 

Don’t like when needles get all over the ground? Try a White Pine! Though this tree does not have as strong of a fragrance as Balsam firs, it has great needle-retention, keeping your floors clean all season long. According to the Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association, it is the largest pine in the U.S., and it is the pine that made Wisconsin famous in the logging days. So, if you want a big tree, full of state history, this may be the one for you.

White Spruce

PICEA GLAUCA

This tree is perfect for those who have heavier ornaments or fragile ornaments because it has short, stiff needles and the branches are strong, according to the Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association. While the blue-green color of this tree is quite beautiful, the aroma from crushed needles isn’t as pleasant, so take that into consideration if you choose this tree.

Not Native, But Commonly Grown in Wisconsin Today:

Fraser Fir

ABIES FRASERI

These trees are known for their stellar needle-retention, as well as their dark blue-green color. While this tree is native to the Appalachian Mountains, it is now grown across Wisconsin and has adapted well to growing in our state’s climate, according to the Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association. It can be identified by its branches that turn slightly upward and the slightly silver underside of its needles. It also has a very pleasant scent throughout the season.

Scotch Pine

PINUS SYLVESTRIS

Check out the Scotch Pine if you want a fresh, bright green and sturdy tree with short and retentive needles. This is the most common Christmas tree in the U.S. according to the National Christmas Tree Association, but it is actually originally from Europe. It was imported here to be grown for Christmas trees, and there are many varieties today.

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Brianna Schubert is a freelance writer at Milwaukee Magazine. She is studying journalism, psychology and Spanish and is in the Honors College at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.