Pine, Spruce, or Fir? A Helpful Guide to Choosing Your Tree

There are over thirty-five different species of trees which double as Christmas trees in the US. The most popular species fall into three categories; pine, spruce, or fir. Each type of tree has advantages and disadvantages, the following list will help you better understand your options. For a more detailed list of popular Christmas trees click here.

Scotch Pine Christmas Trees

Pine Trees

Leaves:

  • Pine needles are longer than the average fir or spruce needles
  • They grow in clusters which twist around the branch

Branches:

  • Strong, with space between boughs unless sheared to be very dense.
  • Limbs turn up as the tree matures

Needle Retention:

  • Excellent, casing on the needles holds in water

Color:

  • Varies from blue-green to yellow-green; many rich shades of green

Fun Fact:

  • Dead needles often get stuck within the branches, be sure to bang the tree against the ground to shake them out before bringing the tree inside. Dead needles don’t mean you have a dead tree, unless there are a ton of them.Spruce Trees

    Spruce Trees

    Leaves:

    • Needles are stiff with four sides, come to a point and spiral around the branch

    Branches:

    • Supportive, great shape with a whimsical upward turn.
    • The underside of the branches are bare of leaves which can make ornaments more visible.

    Needle Retention:

    • Needles drop faster than pines and firs. It’s a good idea to buy a living tree, or go to a tree farm a couple weeks before Christmas and cut one down.

    Color:

    • Spruces have great color, truly unique from silver-blue to greenish blue

    Fun Fact:

    • Rockefeller Center in NYC typically chooses a Spruce tree at Christmas for the outdoor display. The cold weather helps the tree retain needles.Fir Trees

      Fir Trees

      Leaves:

      • Flat, soft needles that grow in rows. Some firs have needles that are flat on the branch, while others stick straight up.

      Branches:

      • Firs have shorter branches which lead to a slender shape. They are symmetrical trees, have space between the branches and a full look.

      Needle Retention:

      • Good, especially if you keep it watered and away from vents blowing heat.

      Color:

      • Deep shades of green on top of the leaves with silver underneath.
        A coating on the needles makes firs shine in the light.

      Fun Fact:

      • The Douglas Fir is not actually a true fir, it’s scientific name is Pseudotsuga menziesii.