Most Christmas trees are grown on tree farms. They are considered an agricultural product. For every Christmas tree harvested, three seedlings are
planted in its place.
There are close to 15,000 farms growing Christmas trees
in the US and over 100,000 people are employed full or part-time
in the industry.
Until the 1930s, most
Christmas trees grew wild in the forest or in abandoned fields.
Early tree farming took place mostly on poor and marginal
soils where some conifers could still thrive. Today almost
all Christmas trees are cultivated as a specialty crop on
farms suited for their production.
In the US there about 1 million acres dedicated to tree farming. Each acre provides enough oxygen for 18 people.
Tree farms reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air and help counter-balance global warming.
Real trees are easily recycled. Many communties offer free curbside pick up in the weeks following Christmas and turn the trees into mulch.
Every state in the US grows Christmas trees.
The first recorded reference
to the Christmas tree dates back to the 16th Century.
As Christmas trees became
popular in the US, some individuals began a campaign opposing
the use of evergreens for this purpose, declaring that if
the cutting of Christmas trees continued, our forests would
soon be depleted. President Theodore Roosevelt - known for
his campaign for the conservation of natural resources - banned
the use of such trees for White House festivities. Shortly
afterward he discovered that two of his sons had smuggled
a tree into the mansion and set it up in their room. The boys
appealed to their father's good friend, Gifford Pinchot, "America's
first professional forester." Pinchot convinced the president
that if young evergreens were properly cut, it was helpful
rather than harmful.
In 1882, Thomas Edison's
laboratory assistants introduced the first electrically-lit
Christmas tree. It had 80 bulbs and cost a small fortune.
On a well-managed Christmas
tree farm, 90 percent of the land is occupied by vigorously
growing tree crops at all times. With an average tree production
cycle of ten years, counted from the time a seedling is planted,
this ensures the farmer a regular annual crop ready for harvest.
Scotch pine and Virginia
pine are the two most common species grown for Christmas trees
Christmas trees grown
and purchased in Oklahoma for use in Oklahoma stay fresh longer.
Thirty-four to 36 million
Christmas trees are produced in the US each year, and 95
percent are shipped or sold directly from Christmas tree
It takes an average seven years to grow a Christmas tree
to the standard retail sale height of six feet.
Their basic production
characteristics make Christmas tree beneficial to the environment,
to people and to animals. A broad network of roots holds
the soil, and a continuous cover of grass between rows prevents
surface erosion by water and wind.
As a long term crop, trees
allow a natural build-up of bird and animal populations.
all plants, conifers growing for eventual harvest as Christmas
trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow
and produce oxygen as a byproduct. One acre of Christmas
trees produces enough exygen for 18 people.
trees left in the yard provide welcome shelter for chickadees,
nuthatches and other small birds. Redecorate the trees with
treats for the birds - strings of popcorn, cranberries, suet
balls stuffed with sunflower seeds, peanuts and chunks of
coconut, apples, balls of peanut butter mixed with oatmeal
flakes and pieces of stale cakes and cookies. Don't forget
to take off the tinsel. It can make the birds sick.
Christmas trees are
biodegradable, which means they will break down and become
part of the soil again. The branches and needles make great
mulch in home gardens, especially for plants that like acid
soil. The nutrients contained in an old tree might one day
end up as part of a new Christmas tree in the future.
Since 1917, the Province
of Nova Scotia has presented the Prudential Center tree to
the people of Boston in gratitude for the relief supplies
received from the citizens of Boston after a ship exploded
in 1917 following a collision in the Halifax, Nova Scotia
Harbor. Part of the city was leveled killing and injuring
America has celebrated
Christmas around New York City's Rockefeller Center Tree since
1931, when Rockefeller Center was still a muddy construction
site. It was a Christmas darkened by the Great Depression,
and workmen proudly placed their tree in the dirt that meant
jobs. That first tree celebrated the indomitable human spirit
as much as Christmas, and the workmen received their precious
Christmas Eve paychecks around its sprightly green branches.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree tradition had more formal
beginnings in 1933, when a tree was adorned with 700 lights
and placed in front of the 8-month-old RCA Building.
In 1979, the national
Christmas tree was not lighted except for the top ornament,
in honor of the American hostages held in Iran.