Natural Christmas Trees


My wife and I are planning for the holidays, and as I write this column we’re still working on leftovers from Thanksgiving – we didn’t go hungry, I assure you.

But it won’t be long before we head out for a Christmas tree and garland materials to decorate our home. Because we enjoy the scent of the tree, we always get a natural tree and festoon it with multiple strings of LED lights and lots of colorful glass bulbs and icicles. The glass icicles are heirlooms from my wife’s family.

Earlier today, I saw an article titled “Real Versus Artificial Christmas Trees - An Environmental Perspective” from Dovetail Partners in Minneapolis, whose scientists work to provide useful public information about environmental decisions and tradeoffs. “Well,” I thought after reading, “leave it to a scientist to take the magic out of a Christmas tree.”

No matter, because they recommend natural trees – and if you’re wired for science, I recommend you read it.

If you’re shopping for a natural tree this year, consider the following facts and figures about Oregon Christmas trees:

  • This year Oregon will harvest about 6.4 million Christmas trees, nearly twice as many as our nearest competitor, North Carolina.
  • About 63,000 acres are planted and managed specifically for Christmas trees, with Douglas-fir being the favored variety at 47 percent; noble fir, 45 percent; grand fir, 5 percent; all the rest account for 3 percent.
  • Christmas trees are considered an agricultural crop in Oregon, and their acreage does not count as forestland. When tallied up, this year’s crop is expected to be worth about $110 million.
  • 45 percent of the crop will go to California; another 10 percent will go to other Western states, with the Atlantic and Gulf states buying another 13 percent. Mexico will buy 16 percent, and the rest of them are already in containers at sea headed for foreign markets.

Christmas trees, like wine grapes, are often planted on soils that would not be suitable for other crops. Such as with any tree, they absorb atmospheric carbon and emit oxygen through photosynthesis. It’s a crop that helps anchor soils, preventing erosion. After they’re used, trees are often turned into recycled mulch. Buying and selling Christmas trees is an activity that profits many service organizations. Here in Oregon, Christmas trees and garlands are often purchased directly from growers, making them a fresh, attractive locally sourced product.

If you’re interested in more information about Christmas trees, go to the website for the Northwest Christmas Tree Association.

Dave Kvamme
Director of Communications


9755 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 210        
Portland, OR 97225        
Phone: 971-673-2944        
Fax: 971-673-2946

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