Fraser Fir Christmas Tree
Perhaps the most iconic sign of Christmas is the Christmas tree. It isn’t only the sight of the tree, sparkling with decorations, that evokes the magic of the holiday season, but the adventure of choosing the perfect tree, the scent of the evergreen needles, and the way a Christmas tree somehow makes a home feel cozy and welcoming. Fraser firs are some of the most popular trees used during Christmas time, but most people don’t actually know where their holiday tree has come from or the history behind it.
Fraser Fir Range
Fraser firs are native to the southern Appalachian mountains and grow only at an elevation of 3,000 feet or higher. These trees love cold temperatures and the plentiful rainfall of the area. It’s these conditions, in fact, which help to keep these trees green and full all through the season, making them an excellent choice for fresh cut Christmas trees. Today, North Carolina produces almost all of the Fraser firs that are sold in the United States.
History of the Fraser Fir
The Fraser fir was named for John Fraser, a Scottish botanist who discovered the tree species somewhere between 1780 and 1810. He collected samples on different trips and returned with his finding to Scotland. The Fraser fir is still very popular as a holiday tree in the United Kingdom and is grown on large tree plantations in Scotland.
Fraser firs are very similar to balsam firs. In fact, many botanists believe that the two trees were once a single species, which then split into two distinct tree varieties. Some botanists argue that the Fraser is a subspecies of the balsam, while others think that one balsam fir variety is actually a hybrid cross of a balsam and Fraser fir.
Fraser Fir Uses
Fraser firs are what most people picture when they think of a Christmas or holiday tree. These trees have the lush boughs and classic cone shape of a holiday tree, but they also offer a bit of character. Fraser firs are so popular as holiday trees that they’ve been used as the White House holiday tree more than any other evergreen variety.
Aside from their popular use as fresh cut Christmas trees, Fraser firs are also popular for making wreaths or other seasonal decorations. These firs have very strong limbs, which make them durable for use as decorations. The needles, however, are soft and pleasant to the touch. This means they’re easy to work with. The needles are also a distinctive dark green color with blue undertones.
Fraser firs are occasionally used for timber, but this is uncommon. The trees grow at such a height and on such rough terrain that harvesting them for timber simply isn’t profitable.
In older times, the sweet scent and soft needles of the Fraser fir made the tree’s branches a popular choice for stuffing mattresses or pillows. The gentle pine scent would freshen the bedding and the strong branches lent a springiness to the mattress.
The Scent of the Fraser Fir
Like most fir or pine trees, Fraser firs have a tangy, spicy pine scent. The scent of the Fraser fir, however, is mild as opposed to sharp. It’s a gentle, subtle scent that permeates the air without being too overwhelming. Some people describe the scent as bright or fresh.
When used as a Christmas tree, fresh Fraser firs will generally live for about five weeks. Throughout this time, the fir will retain its full appearance without shedding very many needles. The needles of the tree will also stay dark green all through the holiday season. This helps the tree retain its classic holiday tree shape, for which it’s known.
It can take between seven and 10 years for a tree to reach about 6 feet.
In the wild, Fraser firs only grow to between 30 and 50 feet, although some can occasionally grow up to 80 feet. This makes the Fraser fir a relatively small tree when compared to other species. When used for the holidays, Fraser firs are sold in a variety of sizes, so there’s no problem choosing one that will suit the house. Popular sizes include 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 feet tall. It can take between seven and 10 years for a tree to reach about 6 feet, so you’ll know that the fresh cut tree you’re getting has received years of attentive care.