The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

Number Three: The Balsam Fir (Abies Balsamea)

5338737_orig[1]Next on our Christmas tree countdown is the Balsam Fir. Balsam Firs (not to be confused with the Fraser Fir for their similar characteristics) are adapted to a wide variety of environments from swamps to high rocky mountain terrain, but thrive best in the cold climates of the northern United States and Canada. Its symmetrical spire-like crown, dense foliage and spicy fragrance make it another favorite among the most popular Christmas trees.

Young Balsam Firs have sticky, liquid resin blisters on the side of their bark. Fabies-balsamea-ba-mlovit[1]un facts — the benefits of the resin in these blisters are numerous. To start, it had been sold in stores as a confection prior to the advent of chewing gum, and resinous fir knots were once used as torches. The resin also features medicinal properties; during the Civil War the resin was used as a balm and applied to combat injuries.

Today, the resin is most commonly used as optical mounting cement for lenses and microscope slides, and can also be found in paints and polishes; talk about the tree that keeps on giving! If you’re ever lost in the wild and surrounded by Balsam Firs be sure to stay near them, they’ll probably be your best survival aid.

Balsam Firs grow anywhere from 45-75 ft in height at a rate of 12” or less a year. Their slender forms fit great in tight spaces. It takes about 9-10 years to grow a 6-7 ft Balsam Fir Christmas tree.

Christmas_Tree_2011_33_small[1]The Wisconsin State Capitol building boasts a 30 ft Balsam Fir Christmas tree in the center of its rotunda this year.

Missed Christmas tree number four on our countdown? Catch up on it here.

To learn more about the Balsam Fir or any other tree check out our What Tree is That online tool.

The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

Number Four: The Fraser Fir (Abies Fraseri)

FraserFir1[1]Our next tree on our Christmas tree countdown is the Fraser Fir, named after the Scot botanist (John Fraser) who explored the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina in the late-18th century, where these trees are naturally found. Fraser Fir’s have a unique history, according to the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension office, they’re part of a remnant forest from the last ice age. They only grow naturally at elevations of more than 4,500 feet.

The needles on Fraser Firs are dark green on top, and silver underneath, with branches that turn slightly upward. frasier_fir_tree_detail[1]Their uniform pyramid shape makes them an obvious choice as a Christmas tree. In addition to their pine scent aroma, Fraser Fir’s also have great needle retention after being cut, making them practical for families with children.

Speaking of children, a few years back a group of eighth grade students at Harris Middle School in Spruce Pine, NC started a petition requesting the Fraser Fir become North Carolina’s official Christmas tree. These bright, young minds learned that Fraser Firs were a significant part of the state’s economy. How significant? Well, 50 million Fraser Firs are grown on approximately 25,000 acres in North Carolina (that’s 90% of all of all the Christmas trees grown in the state). According to the NC Dept of Agriculture, in 2009 Christmas trees brought an estimated $100 million economic impact to the state.

As it turned out, in 2005 the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation making the Fraser Fir the official Christmas tree of North Carolina, how cool is that!

If you want to experience North Carolina’s natural treasure pay a visit to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC during the holiday season. fraser firThe Biltmore House is known for being one of the largest holiday displays in the Southeast, and this year they have a 34 foot tall Fraser Fir illuminating their Banquet Hall.

To learn more about the Fraser Fir or any other tree check out our What Tree is That online tool.

 

Missed Christmas tree number five on our countdown? Catch up on it here.

The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

Number Five: The Noble Fir (Abies Procera Rehd)

Large-Noble-Fir-300x296[1]Each holiday season consumers hunt for just the right Christmas tree. Every year, 20-35 million living Christmas trees are sold in the US (National Christmas Tree Association). The high demand for Christmas trees has even lead to the creation of Christmas Tree Farms (15,000 in fact), whole farms devoted to growing trees used specifically for Christmas. It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of 6-7 feet. So the next time you’re decorating your tree, be sure to appreciate every needle it has to offer. We’ll dedicate the next few posts to the five most popular Christmas trees, starting with number five: the Noble Fir.

2This rich blue-green tree has short needles that turn upward, exposing its branches. As a result, the stiff branches make it a fine tree for heavy ornaments. Noble Firs come in full and bushy to open layered varieties and can grow to more than 200 feet in height. Because they love moist soil, they’re most commonly found in the Cascade Range and the Coast Ranges of the Pacific Northwest of Washington and Oregon, and southwestern Canada.

traditional-holiday-decorations[1]Noble Firs are also used to make wreaths, door swags, and garland, with a stimulating pine scent that will fill your entryway. When these trees aren’t used for Christmas they make an excellent windbreak or privacy fence.

Looking for a tree seller in your area? Check out The National Christmas Tree Association‘s tree locator tool for a Christmas tree farm in your area. http://www.realchristmastrees.org/dnn/AllAboutTrees/TreeLocator.aspx

Miss Earth 2013 Candidates Fight Climate Change in Tree Planting

Miss Earth is one of the three largest beauty pageants in the world (along with Miss Universe and Miss World), and the only pageant that promotes environmental consciousness. Crowned titleholders dedicate their year to promote specific projects, often addressing humanitarian and environmental causes.

The annual competition, organized by Carousel Productions in Manila, Philippines will showcase on December 7 this year. ms earth 2One of the advocacies of Miss Earth is to generate millions of trees for future generations to come. This year the pageant is featuring the Philippines in its Eco-Tourism Campaign. Carousel Productions hopes to use tourism as a means of alleviating poverty in the region. With the tragic typhoon that dictated the island last month, the country could really use some positive light in cherishing the natural gems the land has to offer.

resortSo Miss Earth 2013 candidates are doing just that. The latest tree planting took place at Campuestohan Highland Resort in Bacolod last week where 15 contestants planted trees in a designated area on the resort. The area will be called “Miss Earth Orchard.”

“The simple act of planting trees helps fight deforestation and makes the air we breathe fresh,” said Miss Earth Philippines Angelee De Los Reyes.

Another group of contestants visited Pontefino Hotel and Residences in Batangas City and planted Fire trees along the highway. The trees will serve as an attraction to tourists in the coming years during their flowering season, similar to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan.ms earth

Tree planting ceremonies are a popular trend among Miss Earth contestants. Last year’s crown holder, Miss Earth Czech Republic Tereza Fajksova led a tree planting activity at the Sumava National Park in Czech Republic, an area that was badly damaged by bark beetles. The Sumava Range is covered by the most extensive forest in Central Europe.

We love the great work these young ladies are doing to sustain a greener planet.

Wood Fossils Show Ancient Antarctica was home to Exotic Forests

Trees in Antarctica? The idea of forests at the South Pole may be somewhat of an unusual idea to the cold climates Antarctica boasts; but new research suggests that tropical trees once grew in the region. An article published by the Huffington Post earlier this month explained how the recent discovery of wood fossils suggests that Antarctica was once home to carpeted forests.

Let’s rewind 250 million years to the Permian and early Triassic period. The world was alot warmer than it is today, so the idea may not be that foreign. The question, said Patricia Ryberg, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute, is how plants coped with photosynthesizing constantly for part of the year and then not at all when the winter sun set. Since Antarctica was still at high latitude, the region experienced round-the-clock darkness in the winter and 24/7 light in the summer.

A fossilized tree trunk protrudes through ice near Antarctica’s Mount Achernar. | Patricia Ryberg

Ryberg and her colleagues gathered samples of leaf impressions and discovered mats of leaves, implying signs of a deciduous forest. What’s interesting about that finding is that samples of fossil wood were also taken and tree rings were examined to reveal that the trees looked evergreen.   “Now we have leaves that suggest a deciduous habit and fossil wood that is suggesting an evergreen habit, so we have a bit of a contradiction going on,” Ryberg said.

Follow-up studies analyzing carbon molecules in the fossil wood also gives both deciduous and evergreen answers, Ryberg said. The implication is that ancient Antarctic forests may have been a mix of deciduous and evergreen.

Tropical trees growing in the Arctic? Not so unusual after all.

Member Note of Gratitude, the Majestic Crapemyrtle

image 1 CMGreat story from one of our members who joined several years ago and out of the blue, followed up with a generous donation.

“We write to you in appreciation and in awe of what our contribution several years ago has accomplished, and what we hope will inspire others to follow suit and contribute to the Arbor Day Foundation. Here is our endowment of gratitude for the beauty that has resulted from that small investment.image 2 CM

About 6-8 years ago we saw an advertisement to contribute $10 to the Arbor Day Foundation and receive several trees as a gift. We’re concerned about the deforestation of our planet, so we sent a contribution not expecting much; In exchange we received five young trees. With good humor we planted them. They grew and grew, and grew; four years later, the results are majestic: five magnificent 12-foot tall crapemyrtles now grace our steep mountainside yard.

Thank you so much for all you’re doing for our planet. We are in desperate shape and need lots of help!”

  Image 3 CM

 

Street Trees Boost Home Sales Price

Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal wrote about the value of street trees — those planted between the sidewalk and the road — in increasing the sales price of a home.

In the study featured — “Trees in the city: Valuing street trees in Portland, Ore.” — 2,608 single family home sales in Portland, Oregon, from July 1, 2006 to April 26, 2007 were analyzed.

Key findings from the research:

  • Homes with street trees sold for $7,130 more, on average, and 1.7 days more quickly
  • Neighboring houses within 100 feet of street trees sold for $1,688 more each, on average
  • The sale premium of having street trees was the same as adding 129 square feet of finished space

 

Treating Trees: Good Advice from a Girl Scout

Here at the Arbor Day Foundation, we have members, advocates, and supporters from all walks of life, representing all corners of the globe, and encompassing all ages.

In part, that’s because the good work of planting and caring for trees spans all boundaries – physical, geographical, socio-economic, and many others.

And we love hearing from these advocates. They’re caring, passionate people who lead interesting lives and who have wonderful stories to tell.

This week, our Member Services team received an email from a young lady in Newark, New Jersey, named Victoria Ribeiro.

Girl ScoutsVictoria is a high school-aged girl scout who is working on earning a Gold Award, the highest award given by the Girl Scouts of America. All Gold Award projects must begin with identifying an issue about which the scout is passionate and end with educating and inspiring others on the topic.

Clearly, Victoria is passionate about trees, and we can honestly say we were inspired by her work. Her Gold Award project, an educational PowerPoint presentation entitled Treating Trees, “…seeks to educate the residents of the city of Newark so that they will be able to identify hazardous trees.”

A scene from a Newark, New Jersey, neighborhood following Hurricane Sandy. Ribeiro's presentation seeks to inform people of what to do with hazardous trees in their neighborhoods.

A scene from a Newark, New Jersey, neighborhood following Hurricane Sandy. Ribeiro’s presentation seeks to inform people of what to do with hazardous trees in their neighborhoods.

Victoria’s email continued: “I must make my project have a global/national impact. I looked at your website and saw that [the Arbor Day Foundation] didn’t really have any program that the residents of a city could help identify trees and make his/her community a better place to live. I am emailing you in the hopes that you may possibly create a program similar to mine to make other neighborhoods a safer and better place to live.”

Victoria, we commend you on your excellent presentation and how you’re helping to educate your fellow citizens on trees and tree care. We’re proud to share your work with others who can learn from it for greener, healthier neighborhoods — in Newark and beyond.

Thank you for sharing your passion for trees, and we wish you much succes on your way to earning the Gold Award.

Download your own copy of Victoria’s Treating Trees presentation.

.

Project Blue River Rescue: Improving Kansas City’s Waterways

Every year for the past 20 years, hundreds of volunteers and city workers in metropolitan Kansas City come together in an effort known as Project Blue River Rescue. Their goal: to clean up piles of trash and illegal dumping out of the Blue River which flows through their city.

Blue River Rescue 2013

Kansas City-area boy scouts take to the Blue River to haul out debris as part of the Project Blue River Rescue 2013. Photo: PBRR Facebook.

Partnering with the Kansas City Public Works, the Missouri Department of Conservation and several local businesses and organizations, Project Blue River Rescue has grown to be Missouri’s largest, one-day conservation cleanup.

“Each year, volunteers have cleaned up thousands of pounds of trash, tires, appliances and even cars,” says Wendy Sangster, Urban Forester with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Blue River Rescue 2013

Volunteers remove several bags of trash and nuisance honeysuckle from the banks of the Blue River in metro Kansas City, as part of the Project Blue River Rescue 2013. Photo: PBRR Facebook.

More recently, Project Blue River Rescue has also focused on habitat restoration along the river. In April 2013, a group of 20 volunteers organized by the Heartland Tree Alliance, a branch of Bridging the Gap, planted 500 tree seedlings along the Blue River near a baseball complex in southern Kansas City. The seedlings included native species — burr oak, sycamore, pecan and shellbark hickory — all which would have normally grown along the Blue River. Volunteers also worked to remove invasive honeysuckle plants along the waterway to ensure the growth of these new seedlings.

Sangster firmly believes in the longevity of this project and the positive impact it has on the local community. By getting community members involved in the planting, she feels it instills a connection to nature and provides a foundation for advancing environmental stewardship in the greater Kansas City area.

“If a volunteer can do the physical, hard work of planting a tree,” Sangster says, “they are more likely to become ambassadors and tree stewards in their own communities.”
- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -
Mary Sweeney is a program manager at the Arbor Day Foundation.

 

Summer storms keep disaster recovery top of mind

Strong storms, tornadoes, and wildfires have rocked communities all across the U.S. this spring and summer, leaving paths of destruction in their wake.

In the past few weeks alone, thousands of acres have burned in Southern California and New Mexico. Oklahoma and Texas each have seen rampant devastation by multiple tornadoes – some bringing the strongest winds ever recorded. And with the 2013 tropical storm season now officially underway, climatologists are predicting more and stronger storms for the coasts this summer. Read more…