The Most Popular Types of Christmas Trees

Young Couple Selecting Christmas Tree Together From Pine Forest
Tom Werner Getty Images

Americans buy about 20 million real Christmas trees each holiday season, most at a retail lot or a Christmas tree farm. Depending on where you live, the kind of evergreen you'll find will vary. In fact, there are dozens of species of evergreens native to the U.S. Can't decide which one you like best? Here are 10 of the most common varieties of Christmas trees.

Fraser Fir

The Fraser fir is perhaps the most popular variety of Christmas tree because it is hardy enough to survive being cut and shipped across long distances. The Fraser is a native southern fir and grows at elevations above 5,000 feet. It has dark green needles, 1/2 to 1 inch long. The tree has excellent needle retention along with a pleasing piney scent. Fraser fir was named for Scottish botanist John Fraser, who explored the southern Appalachians in the late 1700's.

Douglas Fir

The Douglas fir is another common variety of Christmas tree found throughout the central and northern U.S. It is not a "true" fir and has its own unique species classification. Unlike true firs, the cones on Douglas fir hang downward. Douglas fir trees grow into a cone-shaped naturally, has 1 to 1-1/2 inch needles that are persistent and has a sweet scent when crushed. The tree was named after David Douglas who studied the tree in the 1800's.

Balsam Fir

The Balsam fir is a beautiful pyramidal tree with short, flat, long-lasting, aromatic needles. Balsam fir and Fraser fir have many similar characteristics and some botanists consider them extensions of the same species. But balsams prefer cool climates and are native to the northeastern U.S. and Canada. Balsam fir has a nice, dark green color and very fragrant. The tree was named for the balsam or resin found in blisters on bark and which was used to treat wounds in Civil War.

Colorado Blue Spruce

The Colorado blue spruce is most familiar to people as an ornamental landscape tree. The tree has dark green to powdery blue needles, 1 to 3 inches long and a pyramidal form when young. Colorado blue spruce is very often sold as a living Christmas tree,  which includes an entire root ball and can be planted after the holidays. It's also popular because it rarely sheds its needles indoors. The spruce was chosen in 1978 and planted as the official living White House Christmas tree and is the state tree of both Utah and Colorado.

Scotch Pine

The Scotch pine is one of the most popular Christmas tree species because it rarely sheds its needles and has excellent water retention when cut. The Scotch pine is not native to America; its origins are European. It was first used in reforestation efforts in the New World. Scotch pine tree has stiff branches, two bundled dark green needles 1 to 3 inches long that are retained for four weeks. The aroma is long-lasting and lingers through the entire season.

Eastern Red Cedar

The Eastern red cedar is a popular Christmas tree of the southern U.S., where it is a native species. This evergreen isn't a true cedar; it's a member of the juniper family. Unlike some species that must be pruned regularly to maintain the traditional cone shape, the Eastern red cedar comes by its pyramidal crown naturally. Their ease of maintenance makes them a favorite at cut-your-own tree farms, beloved for their piney aroma. Needles are a dark, shiny, green color and sharp and prickly to the touch.

White Spruce

The white spruce is native to the northeastern U.S. and Canada, and one of the most common types sold as Christmas trees in that region. Like the Eastern red cedar, the white spruce has a natural conical shape that makes it easy for tree farmers to maintain. It's a common choice for cut-your-own farms. However, some people don't like white spruce trees because they tend to shed their needles, which have an unpleasant odor. On the plus side, it's thick branches make it ideal for heavy ornaments.

Eastern White Pine

The Eastern white pine has been valued as a timber tree for centuries, and it is commonly sold in the mid-Atlantic states as Christmas trees. Because this variety of evergreen has very little scent, it is popular with people who suffer from tree-related allergies. Eastern white pines have excellent needle retention and stout branches to support heavy decorations.

White or Concolor Fir

The White fir, sometimes called the concolor fir, is known for its long, blue-green needles, excellent needle retention, and pleasing pine scent. It's commonly sold in Calfornia as a Christmas tree, where it is a native species.

Virginia Pine

The Virginia pine is a newcomer to many Christmas tree lots, particularly in the South. This variety was developed to be a heat-tolerant alternative to the Scotch pine. has only recently been used as a Christmas tree. It tolerates warmer temperatures and has been developed as a southern alternative to Scotch pine. The tree has wide tufts of soft needles ranging from dark green to gray in color. Its limbs are stout with woody branches.