Native Colorado Christmas Trees
Got a question for you? How many times has your family watched Charlie Brown’s Christmas Special? Most likely, the answer is a lot, which means your Christmas tree selection narrows quickly to “We want a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.” Fortunately, my across the street neighbor in Washington Park was one of the Malik brothers who ran Bonzi Nursery specializing in Christmas trees native to Colorado. Native, fresh-cut Christmas trees include Concolor Fir, Douglas Fir, Scotch Pine, White Pine, Lodgepole Pine, and Spruces. Colorado citizens can also cut their own Christmas trees from BLM managed public lands. A permit is required and can be purchase from local BLM offices. For more information on the BLM program, click here.
- Fresh-cut Christmas trees are a renewable resource.
- It takes trees about 7 to 15 years to grow to 6 feet tall, depending on growing conditions.
- A consumer must put up an artificial tree for 20 years before its carbon footprint is less than a real tree.
- America has about 15,000 Christmas tree growers in North America, who employ over 100,000 people.
- There are about 1 million acres in production for growing Christmas trees, with each acre supplying the daily oxygen requirements of 18 people.
Fir trees are the traditional Christmas tree for Coloradans because they have the most sought-after qualities: great fragrance, sturdy needles and branches, and good needle retention. If you keep the trees watered, the Firs will hold needles through Christmas and New Years’.
Douglas Fir – These trees are known for their aromas and shape. Depending on tree selection, a Douglas Fir is a compromise between the parents wanting a traditional tree shape and a Charlie Brown look. The blue to dark green color trees are spindly and showcase Christmas ornaments well.
Concolor Fir – The Concolor Fir, also known as the White Fir, has blue-green needles. Its light-colored new growth gives this tree a cheerful appearance. This tree does not pass the Charlie Brown tree test because of its almost perfect pyramidal shape and thick body. However, these Firs have good foliage color, needle retention, and a pleasing aroma.
Pines trees look and smell more like a traditional Christmas tree. They are easily pruned to a good shape in the field and boast good needle retention. However, pines produce a lot of sap and can create a sticky mess.
Scotch Pine – These pines are very popular Christmas trees with stiff branches and bright green needles that hold for weeks. Their needles do not drop off the tree, even when dried out. They have a pleasant, lasting aroma. Their thick foliage of the Scotch Pine does not make it a good Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.
Southwestern White Pine – These are the trees seen while driving on mountain roads, and the driver wonders why in the world is the tree growing there? They are known for taking root on cliffs, steep ridges, and other seemingly treacherous places. Their bark does start light grey but turns darker as the tree matures. White Pines do pass the Charlie Brown Christmas tree test.
Lodgepole Pine – Lodgepoles are ubiquitous in Colorado, covering approximately seven percent of the state’s forested lands. These trees make great Charlie Brown Christmas trees because of their spindly look and sparse needles.
For shoppers looking for the “perfectly shaped Christmas tree”, Spruces fit the bill. These trees are known for their pyramidal shape and dense foliage, so do not make good Charlie Brown Christmas trees.
Colorado Blue Spruce – The Blue Spruce is Colorado’s state tree. Blues Spruces color varies from dark green to powdery blue. The needles are 1 to 3 inches long and stiff. Colorado Blue Spruce has good needle retention, but they will drop in a warm room.
White Spruce – White Spruces are blue-green to green in color, have excellent foliage, and a good, natural shape. Needle retention is good, but the needles smell bad when crushed.
Christmas Tree Recycling
After New Years’, please dispose of trees properly. The City of Denver offers a Treecycle program that turns discarded Christmas trees into mulch. Free Treecycle mulch is made available to Denver residents at the Mulch Giveaway and Compost Sale in May. For details about recycling trees in Denver, please click this link.
Winter Tree Care
Besides thinking of Christmas trees, homeowners need to be aware that Denver is going through a winter drought. Your yard trees might need some tender loving care to get them through the winter. For more information about winter tree care, please check out our new Winter Tree Care Handbook.