Have you ever wondered, how many Christmas trees are cut down each year?
As a holiday that is celebrated around the world, the yearly demand for the festive evergreen continues to grow. In fact, these new stats my surprise you.
Many environmentalists applaud the use of real trees, especially those that are used with the root ball attached and can be replanted in the spring.
December is not only the month of the Christmas season, but it is also the month when folks have a greater negative impact on the planet, often without even realizing it. But, knowing how many Christmas Trees are cut down each year might help you rethink the practice, because these trees are actually doing a whole lot of good for the planet.
According to studies,6 the global carbon footprint during the holiday season is six percent higher than the rest of the year. That’s because people tend to buy more, whether it’s gifts or food because they produce more pollutants7 and take trips more.
And every single thing you buy, including a Christmas Tree, has a eco footprint cost. But, live Christmas trees have a much lower carbon footprint than a plastic one…because during their growth cycle, they are sequestering emissions.
Related Reading: How many Christmas Trees per acre can be planted?
It is estimated that approximately 33 to 36 million Christmas trees are produced and harvested in the United States each year, with 50-60 million produced and cut in Europe.1
Cool Christmas Tree Stats
Did you know that over 98 percent of Christmas tree farms are sustainable? That’s right. The reason isn’t completely altruistic…it’s because for every tree that’s cut down, 1-3 trees are planted to replace it.
Tree farms are scattered throughout the country (in 48 states to be exact!), and the Agricultural Marketing Research Center tracks their progress each year.
According to Census data, there were 3,352 tree farm operations in 2014, which was an increase from 2,700 only five years prior.
|States With the Most Christmas Trees||Trees Produced|
|North Carolina||5.4 million|
In the US, there are currently more than 4,000 Christmas tree recycling centers, and many counties and states offer special yearly services to maximize the use of the trees so they don’t end up in landfills.
Varieties and Types of Christmas Trees
Because the Christmas tree has become the center point of holiday decor and family traditions, it will be critical to select the best one for the occasion. Shape, color, and aroma are just a few things to keep in mind.
Here are the varieties and types of Christmas trees.2
Christmas Tree: Stats for Firs
For most Americans, fir trees are the traditional Christmas tree because they have the following characteristics: wonderful smell, short strong needles, and twigs, and excellent needle retention. They’ll last until Christmas if kept watered and out of direct sunlight.
Fir Trees is a popular choice for the holidays,
The different varieties of Fir include:
This evergreen tree has short, flat, long-lasting needles ¾ to 1 ½ inches long, rounded at the tip; lovely, deep green hue with silver-white cast and fragrant. Its needles measure ¾ to 1 ½ inches and last a lot longer than many other varieties.
This is the typical Christmas tree that most Americans remember from their childhood. This plant has a dark green aesthetic and a pleasant fragrance that lasts all through the Christmas period.
Related Reading: How many trees are in the world?
The tree is named after the resin or balsam found in bark blisters. This resin was often used to produce specimens and managed to sell like bubble gum; it was also used to heal Civil War wounds.
The Canaan fir is very comparable to Balsam Fir and was once assumed to be the same, but it has since been ascertained to be a distinct species.
Canaan Fir has brief, gentle needles, which are green in color on top and shimmering blue on the bottom.
It incorporates the powerful aroma of the Balsam Fir with the Fraser Fir’s superior needle retention.
Related Reading: How many pieces of paper in a tree?
It is native to isolated areas of Virginia and West Virginia mountains, but it is now industrially cultivated in many areas of the Midwest and the east coast.
This tree has a pleasant fragrance; its needles are 1 to 1 ½ inches long and have one of the best fragrances of any Christmas tree when crushed.
The Douglas fir needles extend from the branch in all directions.
Related Reading: How many trees does it take to build a house?
They are among the most popular Xmas tree species in the United States. The tree was named after David Douglas, who studied it in the 1800s; it has a good conical shape and can live for up to 1000 years.
Fraser Fir (Number 1 Tree Cut Each Year)
The Fraser Fir Needles are ½ inches in length, green in color on the pinnacle, and shimmering on the bottom. They have good needle durability, a pleasant fragrance, and sturdy spire branches that turn upward. The Fraser fir branches curve upward slightly. They have excellent form and needle retention. They’re a dark blue-green color, which makes it partly unique for an evergreen.
They have a sweet aroma and outstanding shipping properties. Named after John Fraser Fir, a botanist who traversed the southern Appalachians throughout the 1790s. They only grow in cold regions, such as high elevations. Fraser firs only grow at higher altitudes, 4,500 feet or higher, in mild regions like North Carolina.
Related Reading: How many trees are in the United States?
This is the number one cut Christmas Tree because of its shape and the fact that it can retain its freshness after cutting for longer than any other variety.
Grand Fir has shiny, dark green needles about 1 to 1 ½ inches long; the blunt needles when crushed, give off a citrusy smell. On top, they are yellowish-green, with white streaks on the underside. The needles fluctuate between larger and shorter lengths (on each tree), giving the branches a fuller appearance.
Grand Fir needles, unlike Douglas fir needles, are aligned at the same level when they emerge off the branch. Only the Pacific Northwest coast is home to Grand Firs.
The Grand Fir, also known as the big silver fir, western white fir, Vancouver fir, or Oregon fir, is a relative of the white fir. It thrives at altitudes ranging from sea level to 1,800 meters.
The Noble for has an inch long, shimmering blue-green needles; compact, rigid branches; excellent for bulkier decorations; and it preserves well.
Its bottom branches are exposed as the needles bend upward. It’s highly aromatic, and although it’s native to the West Coast, it’s becoming increasingly popular across the country.2
Its shape is comparable to that of a Douglas fir, but the color is darker and richer. The noble fir is well-known for its elegance, and its stiff branches make it an excellent tree for heavy ornaments as well as wonderful greens for wreaths and garlands.
Related Reading: How many trees are planted each year?
Nobles are endemic to the Pacific Northwest coast, including northern California’s Siskiyou Mountains and Oregon and Washington’s Cascade and Coastal ranges.
Soft, glossy dark green needles make this a great needle-holding species. Europeans favor Nordmann Firs because of their long, full, lush, deep green leaves, which are comparable to that of a Fraser fir but are softer to the touch and have exceptional needle retention.
Nordmann Fir Christmas trees may grow up to 60 feet tall with a 25-to-30-foot spread. Nordmann Fir needles are soft and lustrous black-green, and they grow from symmetrically aligned branches, creating the perfect pyramidal example for a Christmas tree. Nordmann Firs are very popular in parks and gardens as ornamental trees. This tree is extremely popular in the United Kingdom.
White Fir or Concolor Fir
White Fir needles are blue-green with a whitish tint and are ½ to ½ inch long; they have a lovely form and a citrus scent; they retain their needles well.
They feature a beautiful shape and perfume, as well as good foliage color and needle retention. This varietal has a devoted fan base and can live up to 350 years in nature.
Christmas Tree Pines
Pines are a wonderful balance between firs and cypress trees since they look and smell more like a typical Christmas tree, are easy to shape in the field, and grow well in hotter regions.
They can, however, produce a lot of sap, which is sticky, so needle retention is usually excellent.
Pines can be found in practically any place. Pines may be the sole locally growing option in hot areas.
Some of the different varieties of pine include:
Afghan Pines feature soft, short needles and robust branches; they have an open aspect, and a pleasant aroma and they keep well. Native to Russia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, but growing in Texas.
Lone Star Christmas Tree, Mondell Pine, and Pinus Eldarica are all names for the same tree.
The needles of the Austrian Pine are dark green and 4 to 6 inches long; they hold their shape well.
The scent is modest. From Spain to the eastern Mediterranean, it is endemic to Austria, northern Italy, and southern Mediterranean Europe. In 1759, it was brought to the United States.
It was adored by the Romans almost 2000 years ago, according to historians, therefore it could have been one of the first Christmas trees (which, at that time wouldn’t have been used to celebrate a Catholic Mass, but may have been used for winter solstice).
Monterey Pine/Radiata Pine
The Monterey pine, also known as the radiata pine or insignis pine,8 is a native of Baja California and California.
P. radiata was imported to New South Wales in 1859 and Australia in the 19th century, and it has since become an invader in both countries, therefore chopping it down is encouraged.
In Australia and New Zealand, it is the most prevalent Christmas tree species.
Radisa seeds, like those of all pine species, are edible.
Minnesota’s state tree is the Norway Pine, sometimes known as the Red Pine (pinus resinosa). It has dark green needles that are 3 to 5 inches long, large, and bushy. Nearby branches are sturdy and hold ornaments well, and the Norway Pine has excellent needle retention. This species is native to North America.
It can be found from Newfoundland to Manitoba and south to Pennsylvania, with a few smaller, isolated stands in Virginia and West Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains, and also a few isolated areas in northeastern New Jersey and northern Illinois. It’s not a usual Christmas tree since it requires a lot of shearing to get a great form, and sticky sap, like all pines, is an issue in a house.
Many Native American tribes have always relied on pine nuts as a source of nutrition and pine needles for making teas that help aid healing.
Christmas Tree Spruce
Spruce resembles firs in looks, with short, rigid needles and twigs that are good for holding ornaments. The color of the Blue and White Spruce is extremely lovely.
Here are the different varieties of Spruce.
Black Hills Spruce
It has green to blue-green needles that are 1/3 to ¼ inches long and stiff, making it difficult for tiny children to handle.
It has dark green to powdery blue needles and is also known as Picea Blue Spruce.
The needles are quite firm, measuring ¾ to 1 ½ inches in length; good shape; will drop needles in a warm room; symmetrical, yet it is still the best needle retainer among species.
Branches are stiff and can support a lot of weight. Utah and Colorado each have their own state tree. Can live in the wild for 600-800 years.
The needles do have a bluish appearance.
Christmas Tree Cedars
Only in Deodara Cedarhot climates where firs will not grow – and people wish to harvest a tree locally – are cedars often utilized as Christmas trees. As a result, one will encounter them in Arizona, Texas, and the Deep South.
Here are the different varieties of cedar.
It has drooping branches and needles that are green or bluish-green in color.
The tips of the branches become pendulous. Deodara is a Himalayan tree whose wood was used to construct temples throughout Asia.
Related Reading: Cypress Tree Guide
Mummies’ coffins were made of Dedodara wood in ancient Egypt.
Eastern Red Cedar
It has dark, lustrous green leaves that are sticky to the touch, has a pleasant aroma, and can dry up rapidly, lasting only 2-3 weeks. It is a Southern Christmas tree.
Because it is native to the South, the eastern red cedar is a typical Southern Christmas tree, but firs cannot thrive in the heat.
During the summer, the color can range from dark green to bluish silver, and after frost, it might turn bronze, crimson, or even purple.
Easter red cedars can grow to be over 40 feet tall. It has a pleasant scent that reminds you of its origins. Juniperus scopulorum, the Rocky Mountain juniper, is a near relative.
Christmas Tree Cypress
Cypress9 is the most often grown Christmas tree in the deep South, owing to its ability to thrive in hot climates (unlike firs). Their needles are pleasant to the touch; however, the branches are angled upwards rather than straight out, making them unsuitable for hanging ornaments.
Here are the different varieties of cypress
It is a soft-textured gray-green leaf on a native southwestern cypress.
Leyland Cypress needles are dark green to gray in color; with erect branches with a fluffy look; a faint aroma; suitable for persons with allergies to other types of Christmas trees. The Leyland Cypress is the most preferred Xmas tree in the Southeast.
It is dark green to gray in color and has very little scent. Even a toddler won’t be wounded by the needles because they are soft. Because it is not a member of the Pine or Fir families, it does not generate sap, therefore folks with a sap allergy can still appreciate a Leyland as a Christmas tree.2
Positive Impact of Christmas Trees
So, how many Christmas trees are cut down each year, and how does that positively affect the environment? As long as they don’t originate from irresponsible forest exploitation, not all Christmas trees are bad for the environment. Trees grown on customized Christmas tree farmlands are typically selected and acclimatized to require less water intake. Furthermore, as the trees grow, they absorb carbon dioxide from the air and convert it back into oxygen.
Every year, many Christmas tree farms start planting seedlings to replenish the trees that are cut down. As part of the natural cycle, the saplings can provide a habitat for insects, birds, and another biodiversity. Decaying stumps of felled trees remains a valuable wildlife resource since they attract a variety of insects, which are a source of food for birds.
Not only are trees valuable resources, but so is the soil around them, which is typically covered in flowers and grass, particularly plants that thrive in the shade made available by the trees, luring bees as well as other pollinators.
It’s also worth noting that, unlike artificial Christmas trees, which are made of PVC and cannot be recycled, natural Christmas trees can be used for other purposes.3
But, don’t burn your Christmas tree for firewood.. that releases the carbon stored in the tree back into the atmosphere. Make sure to recycle it so it can be used in paper production or as mulch, or any other number of useful items.
Negative Impact of Christmas Trees
So, how many Christmas trees are cut down each year, and how does that negatively affect the environment? Christmas tree farms, like any other farm, require specific resources for the trees to grow until they reach the optimal height for cutting. For Christmas tree farmlands that grow trees that do not naturally grow in a specific region, this implies employing pesticides, dirt, herbicides, water, herbicides, and fungicides, all of which have the potential to harm the environment.
If Christmas trees are not cultivated on customized farms, unregulated forest harvesting can cause significant climate change, environmental imbalances, the development of natural disasters such as floods or landslides, and endangered animals that live in conifer forests.
All Christmas trees which are not correctly recycled and are disposed of in landfills have a carbon footprint since they break down and emit, an odorless gas that poses a serious threat to the environment and human health.4
How To Make Christmas Trees Have a Lower Environmental Impact
Do a little research before buying your tree this year, and it select from sustainably managed farm with a good social impact, and that has a limited or zero use of herbicides and pesticides, as well environmentally friendly policies.
The best option for an individual is to look for a responsible Christmas tree farm10 as near to them as possible. This cuts down on the carbon footprint so that you can carbon offset shipping emissions. Many such farms can create employment for residents living near forests, reducing pressure and exploitation while also generating relevant income. These figures can be impressive in more developed countries. In the United States, for instance, fir tree farms employ 100,000 people and generate yearly revenue of more than $1 billion.
Such farms have harvesting intervals of 8-10 years while also providing a good habitat for various species. A poorly managed tree farm, on the other hand, can have negative consequences such as habitat loss and soil degradation.
How many Christmas trees are cut down each year, and does the Christmas tree industry have no environmental impact.. Not really, because the trees actually help the environment while they are growing, and because they are continually replanted, the industry itself is very sustainable.
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1The impact of Christmas trees on the environment. (2022, 2 mei). AgronoMag. <https://agronomag.com/impact-christmas-trees-environment/#:%7E:text=It%20is%20estimated%20that%20annually,50%2D60%20million%20in%20Europe>
216 Types of Christmas Trees. (2021, 3 augustus). ProFlowers Blog. <https://www.proflowers.com/blog/16-types-of-christmas-trees>
3Are Christmas Trees Bad for the Environment? (2022, 4 mei). Family Handyman. <https://www.familyhandyman.com/article/are-christmas-trees-bad-for-the-environment/>
4E. (2021, 26 april). How bad are Christmas trees for the environment? Popular Science. <https://www.popsci.com/story/environment/christmas-tree-environmental-impact/>
5he Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree – How to Celebrate Sustainably! (2022, 21 maart). Zero Waste Memoirs. <https://zerowastememoirs.com/eco-friendly-christmas-tree/>
6EPA. (2022). Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data. Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Retrieved June 03, 2022, from <https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data>
7NASA Climate Kids. (2022). Help Earth: Buy a real Christmas tree! Help Earth: Buy a real Christmas tree! Retrieved June 03, 2022, from <https://climatekids.nasa.gov/christmas-tree/>
8USDA. (2022). Monterey Pine. Pinus radiata D. Don. Retrieved June 03, 2022, from <https://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/misc/ag_654/volume_1/pinus/radiata.htm>
9NC State. (2016). Selecting the Right Tree. Christmas Trees. Retrieved June 03, 2022, from <https://christmastrees.ces.ncsu.edu/christmastrees-selecting-the-right-tree/>
10Slidebottom, J. (2020). Environmental Impacts of Christmas Trees. Christmas Trees. Retrieved June 03, 2022, from <https://christmastrees.ces.ncsu.edu/environmental-impacts/>
11Photo by Patrick Schneider. Unsplash. Retrieved from <https://unsplash.com/photos/0tqDZo3b2eo>
12Photo by Michele Purin. Unsplash. Retrieved from <https://unsplash.com/photos/uWJo5rEhvo4>
13Photo by Joel Cross. Unsplash. Retrieved from <https://unsplash.com/photos/NbSIXNXItXw>
14Photo by Kristof Van Rentergem. Unsplash. Retrieved from <https://unsplash.com/photos/wpJzHTg2UA8>