University of Illinois Extension

Best Choices for Christmas Trees

Knowing a little bit about Christmas tree needle retention, fragrance and color can help you to choose that ‘perfect’ tree.


Scotch Pine
Pinus sylvestris

Most common Christmas tree; stiff branches hold heavy ornaments well; stiff, dark green needles one inch long; holds needles for four weeks; needles will stay on even when dry; has open appearance and more room for ornaments; keeps aroma throughout the season.


Fraser Fir
Abies fraseri

Has dark green, flattened needles; one half to one inch long; good needle retention; nice scent; pyramid-shaped, strong branches which turn upward. A 19-foot-tall Fraser fir will be the 2012 official White House Christmas tree.


Douglas Fir
Pseudotsuga menziesii

Has good fragrance; holds blue to dark green; one to one and one-half inch needles; needles have one of the best aromas among Christmas trees when crushed; branches are spreading and drooping. After being cut, the Douglas fir will last three to four weeks.


Balsam Fir
Abies balsamea

Three-fourths to one and one-half inches short, flat, long lasting needles that are rounded at the tip; nice, dark green color with silvery cast and fragrant.