Types and Names of Live Christmas Trees

Christmas Tree Name Norway Spruce (Picea abies)

There are two main types of Christmas Trees, see List of Natural Live Christmas Tree Names and List of Artificial Christmas Tree Names. Christmas Trees are evergreen trees that are decorated in the celebration of Christmas. They may also be called Yule Trees. Traditionally many different species of evergreen trees are used for a Christmas tree and their common and scientific names are listed below. Some churches decorate with Chrismon trees, which use handmade ornaments depicting various Chrismon symbols.

The origin of the Christmas Tree tradition suggests that a Fir (Abies) Tree was probably used as the first Christmas Tree in 16th Century Northern Germany. The word Tannenbaum, is a German word for "fir tree". This can be understood to be a "Christmas tree". However the literal meaning of "Christmas tree" is in the word "Weihnachtsbaum", where Weihnacht-en means Christmas and baum means Tree.

Many Christmas Trees can be bought locally or online. In North America some popular stores include Lowes, Home Depot, Menards and other Home Stores. In Europe some stores may include Homebase, and ASDA.
In any location Local Smaller stores or tree farms may serve your needs better in searching for that special tree yourself.

Types and Names of Natural Live Christmas Trees

Traditional Christmas Trees are natural trees that have been cut down on a Christmas Tree Farm or from its natural location.
Many Species have been used for Christmas Trees, see List of Live Christmas Tree Names.

The most popular genus of Christmas Trees are Fir species (Abies), maybe because they don't drop their needles quickly when the tree dries out, commonly known as "needle drop". Fir Christmas trees retain their foliage smell and color well over the Christmas time while they are decorated.

Species in the Pine and Spruce genus are also used well used as Christmas trees, see list of Christmas tree names below. Some natural trees are sold as "Living Christmas trees". They are sold live with roots and soil, often from a tree farm or nursery. They may grow permanently in planters or planted later outdoors and enjoyed and often decorated for years to come.

List of Live Christmas Tree Types and Species, Common and Botanical Names

List of Live Christmas Tree Types and Names
Christmas Tree Common NameChristmas Tree Botanical NameChristmas Tree Locations and PropertiesChristmas Tree Pictures
Douglas-Fir or
Oregon Pine, or
Douglas spruce
Pseudotsuga menziesii

North America

A popular Christmas tree. Has dense foliage. The needles are 1" to 1 ½" in length.

The branches or limbs may be weaker for hanging heavy Christmas ornaments, unlike most other Christmas tree species.

Douglas-fir Christmas trees are commonly trimmed to a cone shape at the tree farm or nursery, instead of left to grow naturally like Noble Fir or Grand Fir Trees.

Douglas-Fir Christmas Tree, (Pseudotsuga menziesi)

Picture of a Douglas-Fir Christmas Tree

Douglas-Fir Branches and Needles close view

Photo of Douglas-fir branches and needles

FirsAbies Genus  
Balsam Fir,
European Fir
Abies balsamea

North America

Most popular tree in sales at Christmas tree farms in North America.

Balsam Fir Christmas Tree, (Abies balsamea)

Photo of Balsam Fir Christmas Tree

Balsam Fir branch close up view, (Abies balsamea)

Picture of Balsam Fir branch and needles

Fraser FirAbies fraseri

Europe and North America

Fraser Fir has a distinctive fragrance, now associated as a Christmas smell. It has strong limbs, and an ability to retain its short soft needles for a long time after cutting.

Fraser Fir needles do not prick your hands as easily while hanging ornaments. The needles are ½" to 1" inch long.

Fraser firs are grown and cut in plantations in Scotland. They are transported and sold by the thousands throughout the United Kingdom.

Fraser fir is widely used as a Christmas tree in North America. The Fraser fir has been used the most in the White House, as the Blue Room Christmas tree.

Fraser Fir Christmas Tree, (Abies fraseri)

Picture of a Fraser Fir Christmas Tree

Fraser Fir Branches close up view

Photo of Fraser Fir branch and needles

Grand Fir or
Giant Fir,
Lowland White Fir,
Great Silver Fir,
Western White Fir,
Vancouver Fir,
Oregon Fir
Abies grandis

North America

This tree has a citrus like scent. The needles are 1" - 1 ½" long.
The branches are sometimes used for Christmas decorations such as reefs and table decor.

Grand Fir Christmas Tree, (Abies grandis)

Picture of a Grand Fir Christmas Tree

Grand Fir Branches close up view

Photo of Grand Fir needles

Guatemalan FirAbies guatemalensis

Used in Central America.

This tree is listed as threatened by the IUCN due to timber exploitation and loss of habitat, (updated 2011-11-12).

This tree has a thin foliage, instead of a dense foliage like most other Christmas tree species.

Guatemalan Fir, (Abies guatemalensis)

Photo of a Guatemalan Fir

Noble FirAbies procera

Europe and North America

A very popular Christmas tree. Long 1 inch thick needles resist dropping off and may help with hanging Christmas ornaments.
Has dense foliage with short stiff branches making it ideal for heavier ornaments. Branches are used to make wreaths, door swags and garland.

Noble Fir Christmas Tree, (Abies procera)

Picture of a Noble Fir Christmas Tree

Noble Fir Branches close up view

Photo of Noble Fir branches and needles

Nordmann FirAbies nordmanniana


Nordmann Fir is a popular species grown in Europe for Christmas trees.

It has attractive sparse foliage, with ¾ - 1½ inch long needles that are not sharp, and do not drop easily when the tree dries out after cutting.

Nordmann Fir Christmas Tree, (Abies nordmanniana)

Photo of a Nordmann Fir Christmas Tree
Above Photo by Magnus Manske, Image use cc2

Nordmann Fir foliage, (Abies nordmanniana)

Picture of Nordmann Fir foliage

Red Fir or
Silvertip Fir
Abies magnifica

North America

A popular Christmas tree, almost all the needles point upwards.

The tree name Red Fir derives from the color of the bark on the old trees of this species.

Red Fir, (Abies magnifica)

Picture of a Red Fir (Abies magnifica)

Red Fir needles close up view, (Abies magnifica)

Photo of Red fir needles close up view

Silver Fir or
European Silver Fir
or Christmastree
Abies alba


The first Christmas Tree was a Silver Fir.

Silver Fir, (Abies alba)

Photo of a Silver Fir Christmas Tree

Silver Fir needles close up view, (Abies alba)

Picture of Silver Fir needles close up view

White Fir or
Concolor Fir
Abies concolor

North America

White fir is a popular Christmas tree due to its soft needles and its excellent needle retention. The needles are ½ to 1½ inches long.

It is also used for Christmas decoration.

White Fir has a citrus like smell.

White Fir Christmas Tree, (Abies concolor)

Photo of a White Fir Christmas Tree

White Fir needles and cones, (Abies concolor)

Picture of White Fir needles and cones

PinesPinus Genus  
Pinyon PinePinus edulis

North America

The Pinyon Pine is sometimes used for a Christmas tree in the southern Rocky Mountain States of the U.S.A

Pinyon Pine, (Pinus edulis)

Photo of a Pinyon Pine

Jeffrey PinePinus jeffreyi

North America

This tree is native to the mountain ranges in California down to the mountains in northern Mexico.

Not a common Christmas tree, but still used today.

Jeffrey Pine, (Pinus jeffreyi)

Photo of a Jeffrey Pine

Jeffrey Pine needles and cones, (Pinus jeffreyi)

Picture of Jeffrey Pine needles and cones

Scots PinePinus sylvestris

Europe, but introduced to North America

Scots Pine has been widely used in the United States for Christmas trees in the past and still is today. They were most popular from the 1950s through the 1980s.

Scots Pine has since been eclipsed in popularity by other species such as Fraser Fir, Douglas-fir and other faster growing trees.

Scots Pine, (Pinus sylvestris)

Photo of a Scots Pine Tree

Scots Pine needles and cones, (Pinus sylvestris)

Picture of Scots Pine needles and cones

Stone PinePinus pinea

From Europe, but introduced to North America and South Africa.

For small table top Christmas Trees.

Young Stone Pine year old seedlings are seasonally available as 20 ↔ 30 centimeters (8 ↔ 12 in) tall table-top Christmas trees.

Stone Pine Christmas tree, (Pinus pinea)

Photo of a Stone Pine Christmas Tree

Stone Pine seedling, (Pinus pinea)

Photo of a Stone Pine Seedling

Swiss Pine or
Arolla Pine
Pinus cembra

From Europe

Swiss Pine, (Pinus cembra)

Picture of a Swiss Pine

Virginia PinePinus virginiana

Virginia Pine is a popular Christmas Tree grown in many Christmas Tree farms in the eastern United States, despite having sharp tipped needles with a yellowish green color during wintertime.

Virginia Pine Tree (Pinus virginiana)

Photo of Virginia Pine needles

SprucePicea Genus  
Norway SprucePicea abies

Europe, has been introduced to some parts of North America

The most popular in Europe, and usually the cheapest. The needles are ½" – 1" long.

Every Christmas, the Norwegian capital city Oslo, provides the cities of New York, London (the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree), Edinburgh and Washington D.C. with a Norway Spruce, which is placed at the most central square of each city.

Norway Spruce, (Picea abies)

Picture of a Norway Spruce Christmas Tree

Serbian SprucePicea omorika


Serbian Spruce is grown in small amounts for the Christmas tree trade.

It has a narrow crown, that is to say this tree has a more slender shape to it than most other popular Christmas trees.

Serbian Spruce, (Picea omorika)

Photo of a Serbian Spruce Tree
Picture by wikipedia user Goldfinger,
Image use cc2

Artificial Christmas Trees

Many modern artificial Christmas trees are made entirely from recycled plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or other plastics. Some of the main Christmas Tree structure remains to be made out of metal, however this too has been switched over to recycled metals. Artificial Christmas Trees are not recyclable or biodegradable, despite being made from plastic and metal.

Types of Artificial Christmas Trees

Brush Bristle Christmas Trees;

These trees are made from the same animal hair bristles used in brushes, except they are dyed green. For a while in the past, these brush trees were extremely popular, and many Brush Christmas Trees were exported to Great Britain, where they also became popular. These brush bristle Christmas trees have advantages over the earlier feather trees, they could carry more ornamentation, not just in weight, but providing more hanging locations, and they are not as flammable.

Plastic Christmas Trees;

Most artificial plastic Christmas trees are made from PVC plastic. PVC trees are fire retardant but not fire resistant. Artificial plastic Christmas trees come in many sizes and colors, some may have a frosted or glittered color design. Some are designed for outdoor use and have UV additives added to the plastic so they don't fade, or become brittle as quickly.

Recently Christmas Tree Production Companies have been manufacturing increasingly realistic PVC trees made to resemble the looks of species of natural trees such as, Douglas fir, Ponderosa pine and Norway Spruce.

The Pre-lit Tree (a tree made with the lights already in it) has become increasingly popular in the United States and Germany. In the USA these trees however are not made from recycled plastic materials because pre-lit trees are classified as a category of electrical product and are subject to the mandatory regulations for the electrical products safety standards e.g. UL, CSA, GS, BS and RoHS.

Aluminium Christmas Trees;

Aluminium Christmas trees have branches that are made largely from aluminium and typically have the silver shiny look to them. They are not as popular as they used to be, mainly due to their un-natural look and also because they are largely unsafe for Christmas lights as the metallic branches and needles may cause a short circuit between two light bulbs. This is an older design flaw though, and new types are reported to be safer for lights.

New types of Aluminum Christmas Trees are now appearing back on the market, featuring new designs and colors, and also having the benefit of being made out of recycled materials such as plastic and aluminum. These new trees are able to be packed away and re-used easier than the old styles, another benefit they boast, so hopefully they will get more use and a longer life, thus less trees being thrown out.

Related Articles;
See also;

http://www.bctga.co.uk/ For Christmas tree information in Great Britain