Oh Christmas Tree!

Oh Christmas Tree!

Nothing says “ ‘Tis the Season” like a decorated evergreen variety adorned with Christmas lights and Christmas ornaments from top to bottom. Beautifully needled branches are carefully coated with decorations, and tucked with presents and tree skirts around their trunks. Just one of these sparkling trees adds a touch of holiday cheer to your home. Internationally this tree is recognized as a symbol of Christmas and annual Yule tidings.

But, what many don’t realise is that before it becomes a Christmas tree, this beautiful symbol of joy and togetherness is just a tree in a forest or on a farm.

A Brief History

When Christmas trees first began their journey as these beloved holiday symbols, it was the 16th Century and things were very different then. It wouldn’t have been uncommon for someone to simply chop down their own tree and haul into their village or home. 

But as time has passed, our processes for scouting and cutting down trees have changed significantly. No longer is it permissible to simply walk into the woods and bring home the perfect sized tree.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association roughly 350 Million Christmas trees are grown on tree farms throughout the United States. Out of all these trees sold, about 25 to 30 Million of them are real trees! [2]

Year after year as the holiday season approaches tree growers throughout North America prepare for some of their busiest selling seasons. The state of Oregon is recognized as the number one grower and seller of Christmas tree varieties in the United States. [3] While they produce and sell millions of evergreen trees a year, there are still people who seek the historical route of cutting down a tree in the forest. 

Finding the Right Tree

While seeking out a real Christmas tree has a lower carbon footprint than artificial trees, before walking out into the woods for yours, there’s a few things you should know. 

First, as we mentioned carbon footprints, you should think about yours. While an artificial Christmas tree may last longer, you would need to use it for about 12 years in order to begin offsetting its carbon footprint. Many artificial trees are manufactured overseas and must travel before arriving at the stores for consumers to buy. Whereas a natural and real Christmas tree has a significantly lower carbon footprint.

If the environmental factors of a Christmas tree matter to you, consider composting or recycling the tree after the holidays to decrease the carbon footprint.

The second nugget of information for you to consider is that purchasing from a local tree farm is a great way to support your local economy! While Oregon produces the most Christmas trees nationwide, there are plenty of other states that grow them too. Look throughout your local community for a grower reasonably close by and have the type of trees you’re looking for. Buying local is also a great way to prevent the spread of pests and disease that can occur in interstate plant shipping. 

Trees that are shipped from overseas must be certified from pests such as the Pine Shoot Moth, and the Phytophagous Snail. Other serious pests of concern are the Mountain Pine Beetle and the Southern Pine Beetle that have ravaged a number of pine environments within recent years. Much like the transferring of firewood, evergreen trees, our beloved Christmas trees, pose real threats to the environments that they move into. Shopping local helps keep your local ecosystems safe and your environment healthy. [5]

The third and final bit of information that is important for you as a Christmas tree lover is that if you want to cut down your own tree in the forest, you’re going to need a permit. While technically the forest is public land, much of it is protected by parks and forestry services.

If you’re looking to cut down your own tree, reach out to your local forest services office to obtain a permit and cutting instructions. Your local forest department will also provide you with the specific dates, times, maps, and accessibility information needed for cutting down your tree.

The Star On Top

There are a few more tips that you should consider before heading out to cut down your own tree and they are:

-Most permits for holiday trees are issued in November

-Always tell someone exactly where you’re going and have a backup plan for safety.

-Err on the side of caution and pack emergency supplies including food, water, insulating materials, and first aid supplies before heading out to chop down your tree.

-The tree you select must be at least 200 ft. away from main roadways, campgrounds, and recreational areas.

-Check with your local forest department before heading out for your chopping for road closures, weather warnings, and potential fires. [4]

There are several more tips to be aware of before cutting down your own tree in the woods, be sure to visit the U.S. Forest Service’s website for more information.

With the wonder of the Christmas season all around, we wish you all the best luck in finding your perfect tree!

Have a safe and happy holiday season!


Plant Sentry