Number Four: The Fraser Fir (Abies Fraseri)
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. 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. The 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.