Northwest Conifers


Christmas Trees at Hoyt Arboretum

A guide to popular Christmas trees in the conifer collection at Hoyt Arboretum

To tour Christmas trees at Portland's Hoyt Arboretum, drive Highway 26 to the Zoo exit and follow Knight's Blvd up beyond the Zoo to Fairview Blvd. At the top of the hill, turn right on Fairview and park at the Arboretum Visitor Center.

  1. Nordman fir* (Abies Nordmanniana) Native to S. Europe. A good tree fore people with allergies. Good needle retention.
  2. European silver fir (Abies alba) Once popular in Europe. Replaced by Nordman fir and Norway spruce.
  3. Douglas fir* (Pseudotsuga menziesii) Oregon native. The #2 Christmas tree in the US, #1 in Oregon. Soft, thin needles. 
  4. Grand fir* (Abies Grandis) Oregon native. Flat needles. Great aroma and good needle retention.
  5. Fraser fir* (Abies fraseri) Native to Tennessee. Similar to Balsam Fir.
  6. Balsam fir (Abies balsamea) Native to Canada and northeast US. Good needle retention and scent.
  7. Noble fir* (Abies Procera) Oregon native. Stiff branches with upturned needles. Nice form. Good needle retention.
  8. Sacred fir (Abies religiosa) Native to Mexico. Branches used for decoration.
  9. Blue spruce (Picea pungens) Native to Rocky Mts. Nice form and good needle retention but prickly.
  10. Deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara) Native to western Himalayas. Called “California Christmas tree.”
  11. Mexican white pine (Pinus ayacahuite) Native to Mexico. One variety called pino de navidad.
  12. Incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) Native to Oregon and California. Widely used in Christmas wreaths.
  13. Scots pine* (Pinus sylvestris) Native to Europe. The #1 Christmas tree in the US. Great needle retention and scent.
  14. Norway spruce (Picea abies) Europe. The #1 Christmas tree in Britain. Nice form but sheds needles.
  15. White spruce (Picea glauca)  Native to northeast US and Canada. Good form. Poor needle retention.

    *Christmas trees available in the Portland area.

You can also download a printable version of this page here: ChristmasTrees.pdf

Tip:  Print double-sided with your print driver set to print a booklet bound on the short side. Then you can fold it into thirds for easy viewing.


A Brief History of Christmas Trees

Early Europeans used evergreen boughs to decorate their homes at the winter solstice.

1500s  Christmas trees decorated in the town square in the capital of Latvia. According to legend, Martin Luther first put a decorated tree in the home.

1600s  Trees commonly decorated with apples in Germany.

1700s  Edible ornaments on trees in Germany. First record of lit candles on trees in France.

1800s  Christmas trees introduced in US by German settlers.

1846  Queen Victoria and family sketched sitting around a Christmas tree, leading to its popularity in England.

1851  First Christmas trees sold in US at a market in NY.

1853   First Christmas tree at the Whitehouse.

1882  First electric lights on a Christmas tree by Edward Johnson, protege of Thomas Edison.

1890s  Glass ornaments arrive in US from Germany. Larger trees become popular.
1901  First Christmas tree farm in US.


More information



© 2012 Ken Denniston