Male cardinal in a fraser fir tree
[ Christmas Tree ][ Spotlight ]

Spotlight: Fantastic Fraser Fir, The Number One Christmas Tree.

Disclaimer: The thoughts, opinions, and views in this blog are those of the author only. This post is intended for entertainment purposes only. 

Is it really number one?

That’s what I wondered when I looked up the number one Christmas tree. I was thinking maybe a Noble or Douglas Fir. Those are fairly popular where I’ve lived.

And while those are very popular, along with the Balsam Fir and Grand Fir. It is the Fraser Fir that takes the cake when it comes to Christmas trees. 

Some Quick Facts About Abies Fraseri 

Often called the she-balsam as it will produce blisters on it’s bark that can be “milked” for it’s sweet smelling sap. But don’t let that name confuse you as it’s not a balsam fir but it’s own classification 

Abies fraseri, named after the Scottish botanist who discovered and classified the Fraser Fir. It is also frequently misspelled as Fraizer or Frasier.

It is native to the Appalachian mountains in the south eastern part of the contiguous United States. In decades past an invasive species of bug killed two thirds of this tree. But don’t you worry, it’s been making a comeback over recent years. 

Fraser fir like cool high mountain climates with long winters and short summers. Lots of light and slightly acidic soil. If you live in agriculture areas 4-7  feel free to plant one in your yard as they make lovely decorative trees. 

They grow slowly, reaching about 6-7 feet in seven to ten years. For this reason it can be one of the higher priced christmas trees. 

Lastly, they start to reproduce around 15 years and are monoecious, meaning they produce both male and female cones or strobili. Neat. 

Christmas Tree Qualifications.  

So a Christmas Tree must have certain qualifications in order to fit the bill. 

  1. That Christmas Tree cone shape. You know, small top, big bottom with a graceful flow from top to bottom in size. 
  2. Great smell. This is one of the main perks to a fresh tree versus a fake. The smell! It must be glorious. 
  3. The fullness. Maybe a Charlie Brown christmas type tree is your preference, but for many we want our trees to be lush and full. 
  4. Soft needles. Not a must have but definitely a perk. 
  5. And branch strength. Again, not a must unless you have heavy ornaments. 

That looks like a good checklist. Lets see how the Fraser Fir measures up. 

  1. The Fraser Fir is known for its iconic christmas tree conical shape. It’s one of the many reasons it’s been picked more often than other trees to be the White Houses official Christmas Tree. 
  2. Mentioned above as a Fraser fir grows it develops sap blisters. This sap is sweet smelling and is what gives the fir tree its distinct scent. A scent that has been linked to the smell of Christmass for a long time. 
  3. When Fraser firs reach their top hight of around 30ft they retain their shape but a lot of space will grow in between their branches. However when they are young, like 7-10 years, they are very full. 
  4. It’s needles are soft, and retain their softness even after being cut down. Though I suppose like most trees as it dries out it will eventually become brittle and pokey. But it seems that they take longer to get to that point than some of the other types of Christmas trees. 
  5. They have strong branches. So for those looking for something to hang grandmas antique porcelain ornaments on, this is a good choice for security. I have a Grand Fir this year, and it’s branches are quite bendy and my ornaments are not heavy.(But it’s still a nice tree.)

Okay so, check, check, and check again. It looks like this tree fits the bill for a perfect christmas tree. Or at least by my hastily written check list. You may have your own and that is okay. 

But with it being such an iconic tree, I guess it’s easy to see why there are tree plantations across North American, and even one in Scotland, that grow these trees. Primarily for the Christmas season but you can buy them for your garden as well. 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

All of this being said, there are still many popular and beautiful fir and pine trees that are chosen every year. One is availability, another is personal choice. 

I actually prefer a tree that’s not quite so full. It makes hanging ornaments and lights way easier, plus I love gazing into the heart of the tree as it is illuminated by the soft holiday lights. 

So whatever tree you choose, it’ll be wonderful, because you chose it and you decorated it with items that represent you. Every Christmas tree is unique and each one means so much to the people who have them and share them. 

May you have an amazing Christmas with your amazing Christmas tree. 

Comment or share pictures below of your favorite Christmas tree
Wikipedia Fraser Fir
Missouri Botanical Garden
Gardening Know How

About Author

Jenn Gaskin

After more than a decade in education I decided to turn my copious skills to writing. I have been freelance writing for Dancing Tree Gifts (formerly Sonora Kay Creations) since 2019. I wear many hats with DTG primarily copy editor, author, and web design.