Often referred to as evergreens, Christmas trees include different species of firs, spruces, and pines, all of which stay green year-round. These trees are grown and harvested in 45 different states.
Across the country, over 300,000 acres are dedicated to growing a traditional holiday sight, the Christmas tree. In 2018, more than 32 million Christmas trees were purchased to display in homes and public areas throughout the United States, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. Today, 98% of Christmas trees are grown on farms, and unlike artificial trees made from plastics, real Christmas trees can be recycled to provide benefits to the environment.
A Christmas tree can take up to 15 years to grow to 6 feet tall, so for each tree harvested, Christmas tree farmers plant one to three more seeds. On average, trees are harvested at about seven years old.
*Adopted from Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom’s ‘Seasons’ Ag Mag.
Christmas Tree History:
- The first decorated Christmas tree was in Riga, Latvia in 1510.
- The first printed reference to Christmas trees appeared in Germany in 1531.
- Using small candles to light a Christmas tree dates back to the middle of the 17th century.
- Thomas Edison’s assistant, Edward Johnson, came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees in 1882. Christmas tree lights were first mass produced in 1890.
- In 1900, large stores started to display large, illuminated Christmas trees.
- The tradition of an official Chicago Christmas tree began in 1913, when one was first lit by Mayer Carter H. Harrison in Grant Park.
- The official Christmas tree tradition at Rockefeller Center began in 1933. Since 2004, the tree has been topped with a 550-pound Swarovski Crystal star. Since 2007, the tree has been lit with 30,000 energy-efficient LED lights, which are powered by solar panels.
- Every year since 1947, the people of Oslo, Norway have given a Christmas tree to the city of Westminster, England as an expression of goodwill and gratitude for Britain’s help to Norway during World War II.
- In 1856, Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States, was the first President to place a Christmas tree in the White House.
- U.S. President Calvin Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the White House lawn in 1923.
Christmas Tree Facts:
- In 2012, U.S. farmers planted 46 million Christmas tree seedlings.
- 98 percent of all Christmas trees are grown on farms, while only 2 percent are cut from the wild.
- More than 2,000 trees are usually planted per acre.
- Almost all trees require shearing, or trimming, during their growth to attain the desired Christmas tree shape.
- Most Christmas trees take six to ten years to reach maturity.
- Live Christmas trees have been sold commercially in the United States since about 1850.
- In 2012, 85% of the live Christmas trees purchased were pre-cut. The remainder were “cut-your-own.”
- The most popular Christmas tree varieties are Scotch pine, Douglas fir, noble fir, Fraser fir, balsam fir, Virginia pine, and white pine.
- There are approximately 350 million Christmas trees growing on U.S. farms in any given year.
Sources: University of Illinois Extension, National Christmas Tree Association, USDA Census of Agriculture