Welcome to
Brent's Christmas Trees

Serving the East Bay since 1958

About Us

What Brent's Trees Offers

 We offer weekly fresh cut Oregon and Northern CA Christmas trees cut about Nov 18 through Dec 14.  Depending upon weather, the last cut of our trees usually arrive around Dec 14.

We are your local east bay (Oakland) based family business dedicated to growing the best Christmas trees in Northern CA.  We have been continuously located in the Oakland/East Bay area since 1958 which makes us the longest running small business dedicated to Christmas tree sales around.  Generally our tree lots open around November 22 and remain open through Christmas Eve.  Our lots are located in Oakland at Grand Ave and Lakeshore near the Grand Lake Theater; and new location at Harbor Way Parkway and Doolittle Drive on the Alameda border by the Oakland Airport. We cut our Oregon trees fresh every 7 to 8 days beginning the week of Thanksgiving.  Our last cut is around Dec. 12.  We are known for providing the largest variety and freshest, high-quality trees.  Our varieties include Noble Fir, Silver Tip, Nordman, Douglas Fir, Scotch Pine, Ponderosa Pine, Cedar, Sequoyah, Grand Fir.  We also have wreathes, mistletoe and garland.  We will not be flocking this year. We will offer fire-retarding and providing delivery (within Eastbay) both available for extra cost.  We service commercial businesses and residential clients with excellence.  Many of our trees are delivered locally to businesses and churches throughout the east bay.  Weekend shopping can be crowded, shopping during the week is recommended to beat the crowds.

Brief Business History

Premium Noble Fir

 Established in 1958. Brent began cutting and selling Christmas trees with his father-in-law in the mid 1950's.  In 1958 he went into the Christmas Tree business along with his wife, Mary Jane, in the east bay and the business continues today with his son.  This is truly a locally family owned business and not a corporate enterprise.  Brent continues to live in Oakland with his family and raise trees in Northern CA.  Brent enjoys living locally and promoting local businesses associated with his business.  Brent plants 3000 to 3500 seedlings per year on his farm and in the Sierra Mountain range.  Brent plants about 50% more than he cuts each year.  Christmas trees are a sustainable product which help the environment and promote family spirit for the holidays.

Meet Brent

Grand Fir Christmas Tree

Since 1958, US Army veteran Brent has served families such as yours by providing top quality Christmas Trees. It is our pleasure to meet you and your family at one of our local tree lots. Your opinion to improve our business is appreciated so feel free to contact us with your thoughts. We also appreciate you evaluating our business positively.  But also appreciate your thoughts on how to improve our business to better serve the consumer.  We realize not every tree buyer will be 100% satisfied, as not every tree is grown to perfection and not every sales associate is top notch, but helpful thoughts from you are appreciated.  That being said, please realize the sales associates are seasonal and are doing their best to serve you. From our farm to your home, we want to deliver to you the freshest tree available. Our family and seasonal helpers have never lost sight of the wonderful families, businesses, nonprofits, law enforcement and city officials that have patronized our business since 1958.  We look forward to everyone's continued support and thank you from the bottom of our hearts. 

Christmas Tree Services


Christmas Tree Information

Christmas Tree Care

 

Caring for a real tree


Make a Fresh Cut

Make a fresh cut on the butt to reestablish the tree's ability to take up water. Cut off at least one-half inch.
The fresh-cut surface should be creamy-white, not yellow or brown. If you do not make a fresh cut, the tree will not be able to drink water.
After the cut is made, put the tree in water as soon as possible. The longer the time between when the tree is given a fresh cut and when it is put into the water, the less ability the tree has to absorb water.
Even if a hole is drilled to accommodate a pin-type stand, a fresh cut also should be made on the butt.

Put In Water

Check the stand for leaks.
Place the tree in a sturdy stand which will hold at least one gallon of water. Fill with plain water.
If the tree is not going into the house soon after purchase, it should be stored in a bucket of clear water on a cool porch or patio away from wind and sun in warm climates and protected from freezing and wind in cold climates.

Water Daily

An average tree may consume between a quart and a gallon of water per day.
If the water level drops below the cut end of the trunk, a seal will form and no more water will be absorbed by the tree unless another fresh cut is made. So don't forget to add water every day.

Mini-Lights Produce Minimum Heat

Miniature lights produce much less heat and reduce the drying effect upon a tree.
Always check light sets for frayed or cracked wire insulation and broken sockets before placing them on a tree. Do not attempt to repair a worn light set. Throw it away and buy a new set.
Do not overload electrical circuits.
Always turn off the lights of your tree when leaving your house or retiring for the night.
Never use lighted candles.

Keep Away From Heat Sources

Place the tree away from heat sources such as heating vents, fireplaces, wood stoves and fireplace inserts, radiators, television sets or sunny windows.
Be careful not to block a door with the tree or rearranged furniture.

Remove Tree Promptly

Check for your local chipping and composting program with the parks and recreation department, local nursery or service organization.
After Christmas, before the tree dies, remove it from the house for recycling or pick up by your local disposal service.
Never burn any part of a Christmas tree in a wood stove or fireplace. 


 

How to Care for Your Farm-Grown Christmas Tree

When a Christmas tree is cut, more than half its weight is water. With proper care, you can maintain the quality of your tree. Below are a number of tips on caring for your tree:

  1. Displaying trees in water in a traditional reservoir type stand is the most effective way of maintaining their freshness and minimizing needle loss problems. 
  2. To display the trees indoors, use a stand with an adequate water holding capacity for the tree. As a general rule, stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Devices are available that help maintain a constant water level in the stand.
  3. Use a stand that fits your tree. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.
  4. Make a fresh cut to remove about a 1/2-inch thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk before putting the tree in the stand. Make the cut perpendicular to the stem axis. Don't cut the trunk at an angle, or into a v-shape, which makes it far more difficult to hold the tree in the stand and also reduces the amount of water available to the tree.
  5. Drilling a hole in the base of the trunk does NOT improve water uptake.
  6. Once home, place the tree in water as soon as possible. Most species can go 6 to 8 hours after cutting the trunk and still take up water. Don't bruise the cut surface or get it dirty. If needed, trees can be temporarily stored for several days in a cool location. Place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket that is kept full of water.
  7. The temperature of the water used to fill the stand is not important and does not affect water uptake.
  8. Check the stand daily to make sure that the level of water does not go below the base of the tree. With many stands, there can still be water in the stand even though the base of the tree is no longer submerged in water.
  9. Keep trees away from major sources of heat (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, direct sunlight). Lowering the room temperature will slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption each day.
  10. Use of lights that produce low heat, such as miniature lights, will reduce drying of the tree.
  11. Always inspect light sets prior to placing them on the tree. If worn, replace with a new set.
  12. Do not overload electrical circuits.
  13. Always turn off the tree lights when leaving the house or when going to bed.
  14. Monitor the tree for freshness. After Christmas or if the tree is very dry, remove it from the house.
  15. Visit the Tree Recycling page to find a recycling program near you.
  16. Never burn any part of a Christmas tree in a wood stove or fireplace.

Additional Tree Care Tips

 

Christmas Tree Selection

When choosing your tree and checking for freshness, insure that an abundance of green needles do not fall from the tree when shaken. There are an amount of dead needles that collect in the interior from shipping and handling, this is normal. The tree should look healthy, smell fresh and drink water. Take a needle between your fingers, it should feel firm and snap crisply like celery. Not all trees have the same needles, some needles are pliable and soft and some are heavy and stiff.


The most important thing you can do for your tree is cut ½” off the bottom and as soon as possible place in water. Most species can go 6 to 8 hours without water and will still drink. A tree in water can be stored in a cool dark area protected from sun and wind for many days before it is time to bring it in the house.


Do not let your tree run out of water; a tree will drink 65% of its water within the first week. Having an adequate water reservoir is very important. We recommend 1 quart of water for every 1” of trunk diameter. For example a 4” trunk will drink 4 quarts of water per day for the first several days.


Half of your trees weight is water so make sure you install a tree stand that fits your tree. You want to avoid whittling down the trunk to fit the stand. The outer layers of the trunk are the most efficient in taking up water.


Heat will draw moisture from a tree. Keep trees away from major sources of heat, fireplace, heaters, heater vents, direct sunlight. Lowering the room temperature will also slow the drying process. Check all electrical cords and lighting. We recommend using LED lights as they emit no heat and draw minimal electricity. An environment of cool temperatures and humidity is better than hot and dry.


The safest tree is a fresh tree installed in a stand that provides plenty of water. We believe in Tree Recycling. It is good for the earth, cities and counties. Instead of burning your tree find an agency that will recycle. 

Holiday Safety and Christmas Trees

 

Holiday Safety and Christmas Trees -- Some Facts

In recent years, Real Christmas trees have come under scrutiny because of their perceived potential fire hazard. Are Real Christmas trees the fire hazard they have been made out to be? For many, the immediate answer is an emphatic yes! However, what are the facts?

Facts about Christmas Tree fires

Each year, fires involving Christmas trees do happen. In fact, between 1992 and 1996, of the total number of residential fires reported (446,00) each year, around 530 involved a Christmas tree according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Statistically, that amounts to around one-tenth of one percent (0.12%) of all residentially fires.

What kind of "Christmas Trees" were involved? Both Real and artificial Christmas trees were the first item ignited, representing several different materials. However, Christmas trees are not as likely to be the first item ignited in residential fires as many other household items:

* newspapers 13 times more likely

* boxes or bags 10 times more likely

* curtains or drapes 9 times more likely

* linens 8 times more likely

* cleaning supplies 3 times more likely

* clothing on a person 2 times more likely

What the numbers mean

Each year, approximately 33 million Real Christmas Trees are bought in the United States and enjoyed as the traditional centerpiece of the holiday celebration. According to the NFPA data, of all the Real Christmas trees enjoyed during the holiday season, fewer than one-one thousandth of a percent (0.001%) are involved in a residential fire!

As mentioned earlier, fires involving Real Christmas Trees do happen; but the chance of yours catching fire is very slim, especially if you follow some common sense precautions.

What you can do

It is important to remember that at no time can a Real Christmas tree START a fire. It can however be ignited by an external source. According to NFPA published material, electrical causes and lamps were responsible for starting almost half (46.9%) of structure fires involving Christmas trees. Another quarter of the fires (24..6%) were caused by various open flames, sparks and embers. The remaining fires (28.5%) were started by a variety of ignition sources, including gas-fueled equipment and cigarettes.Keeping the holiday safe from fire is an important responsibility for every family. According to the California Christmas Tree Association (CCTA), these simple steps can help guard against the rare, but serious, event of a holiday fire.

* Select the freshest-looking Real Tree available. Make a fresh cut across the tree's base and immediately place in water. Keep the tree's water container full at all times, checking the water level daily

* Be extra careful with electricity, all open flames and other heat sources during the holidays.

* Check all Christmas tree lights, other electric decorations and electrical appliances with worn electrical cords. Use only UL approved electrical decorations and extension cords.

* Place the Christmas tree well away from heat registers, space heaters, fire places and wood stoves.

* Place the Christmas tree well clear of doors--keep the emergency escape route clear of trees, packages and furniture.

* Unplug tree lights and other decorations when out of the room or sleeping.Don't let the very slim chance of a fire involving your Christmas tree keep you from enjoying the life, fragrance and tradition that real trees bring to your holiday celebration. A traditional Christmas begins with a Real Tree. 

Add the environment to your holiday gift list

Add the environment to your holiday gift list


Choosing holiday presents for friends and family is an age-old challenge. But one gift that's likely to be a hit with everyone on your list is a Real Christmas tree. Not only do Real Christmas trees provide beauty and fragrance, they offer environmental and economic benefits as will as useful products. It's like giving a gift to Mother Nature.


"Unlike artificial Christmas trees, Real trees are renewable and recyclable," says Paul Battaglia, president of the California Christmas Tree Association. "However, many people still perceive cutting trees down as bad for the environment and that's not the case."


During the four to six years or more it takes a Christmas tree to mature, the trees provide a number of benefits to the environment. Battaglia notes Christmas trees produce oxygen as they grow and serve as filtering devices for dust and smog. As trees develop, needles are shed naturally and the surrounding soil is enhanced. The trees also become home to birds and small animals and serve as winter habitats for deer and other wildlife.


Fifty years ago, Christmas trees were often cut down in forests and not replaced with seedlings. But today, nearly all Christmas trees, 98 percent, are grown on farms. According to the California Christmas Tree Association (CCTA), for every Christmas tree harvested, two or three more are planted."


Christmas trees are like other crops. They are meant to be harvested, just like corn or vegetables," says Battaglia. "Since trees are a crop, they are managed on a sustainable basis."


Christmas tree production is a sustainable process, notes Battaglia, because the trees are "environmentally friendly" in their own right. Tree roots stay in the soil after trees are cut, holding the soil in place and preventing erosion. Battaglia says Christmas tree growers are also known for their widespread use of inputs such as Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which is a balanced and environmentally friendly approach to pest control. In addition, most trees are harvested by hand, not by machine, and are harvested only as needed.


"We have found that raising trees on farms fosters diversity in the types and number of animals present in the environment," says Battaglia. "We don't see any reduction in wildlife with Christmas tree farms, we just see an exchange in the types of wildlife present in farms versus non-planted forests."


Once real trees are discarded after the holidays, they can be recycled into such products as sand dune stabilizers, coastal shore fish habitats, fuel chips or bird feeders. Christmas trees can also be processed into mulch for hiking trails and landscapes or placed into brush piles for use as animal habitats.


Such recycling is not possible with artificial Christmas trees, says Battaglia. "Artificial trees are manufactured from non-renewable sources, such as petroleum-based plastics, steel and aluminum," he says. "All of those resources must be refined or processed for use in artificial trees, which consumes a lot of energy and produces emissions of environmentally unfriendly things such as sulfur dioxide." After several seasons, most artificial trees end up in a landfill because they cannot be recycled. Artificial trees are primarily produced and imported from other countries, too.


Add the environment to your gift list this year. It will probable be the easiest gift to decide on...a Real Christmas tree.  

Types of Christmas Trees

DOUGLAS FIR

Common Characteristics:

These soft needles are dark green - blue green in color and are approximately 1 - 1 ½ in. in length. The douglas fir needles radiate in all directions from the branch. When crushed, these needles have a sweet fragrance. They are one of the top major Christmas tree species in the U.S.

Description:

Douglas-fir is not related to the true firs.

This wide ranging species grows from 70 to 250 feet tall. The branches are spreading to drooping, the buds sharply pointed and the bark is very thick, fluted, ridged, rough and dark brown.

The needles are dark green or blue green, 1 to 1 1/2 inches long, soft to the touch and radiate out in all directions from the branch. They have a sweet fragrance when crushed.

Pollen strobili are small and reddish-brown. Young cones are small, oval shaped and hang downward. They are reddish-brown to gray, 3" long and do not dissipate to spread seed as do true firs (Abies sp.). The cones open in the late summer to disperse the seeds and will continue to hang on the trees through the fall.

Range:

The entire range includes central California, western Oregon and Washington, parts of the Rockies and extends north to Alaska. It grows under a wide variety of environments from extremely dry, low elevation sites to moist sites.

On the west side of the Cascades and Sierra Nevada, it is often the predominate species, but usually occurs in conjunction with several other confers. On the coasts, it is associated with western hemlock and other conifers.

Bigcone Douglas-fir (P. macrocarpa), the other Pseudotsuga species in western North America, has a very restricted range limited to Southern California and Baja, Mexico. It is not used as a Christmas tree.

Under natural conditions, Douglas-fir has established primarily after fires on wetter sites. The trees can live for a thousand years, largely due to a very thick bark that allows them to survive moderate fires. Thus many ancient old-growth forests contain large Douglas-fir that represent the legacy of fires that occurred many centuries ago.

Propagation:

Seed is generally germinated in bare root nurseries and increasingly in container nurseries. It is usually sold as a two or three year old transplant.

Research has been done on grafting and rooting from cuttings. The practicality of these techniques has yet to be proven and remains more of a curiosity rather than a new trend to produce seedlings from trees that exhibit superior Christmas tree characteristics.

Uses:

The Douglas-fir has been the major Christmas tree species used in the Pacific Northwest since the 1920's. During the following 40 years, nearly all trees were harvested from forest lands. Since the 1950's, the transformation from growing trees in the wild to culturing them on plantations has been dramatic. Today, few trees come from forest lands.

An interior strain from the Rocky Mountains (P. menziesii var. glauca) has been extensively planted throughout several midwestern state Christmas tree plantations. It is preferred because of its ability to withstand the more harsh growing conditions than the Pacific Northwest seed sources.

Nationally, it remains one of the most popular Christmas trees species. It is shipped to the majority of the states and is also exported to the Hawaiian Islands, Guam and some Asian markets.

Plantation trees are normally sheared and will produce a crop within 7 to over 10 years depending upon the site and growing area.

Douglas-fir is one of the stronger of the softwoods and is widely used for structural purposes. The sapwood is white to pale yellow while the heartwood is orange-red with high contrast between earlywood and latewood.

It is straight grained and moderately hard. It is used widely in construction, laminated timbers, plywood and high grade veneer, interior trim, cabinet work, pallets, boxes, ladders and flooring.

It is also one of the more common softwoods used in export markets. 



NOBLE FIR

 

Common Characteristics:

These needles turn upward, exposing the lower branches. Known for its beauty, the noble fir has a long keep ability, and its stiff branches make it a good tree for heavy ornaments, as well as providing excellent greenery for wreaths and garland.  

Description:

In the wild, the trees are tall, beautifully symmetrical and grow to over 200 feet in height. The bark is smooth with resin blisters when young and changes to brownish-gray plates with age.  The needles are roughly 4-sided (similar to spruce), over 1 inch long, bluish-green but appearing silver because of 2 white rows of stomata on the underside and 1-2 rows on the upper surface. The needles are generally twisted upward so that the lower surface of branches are exposed.  The pollen cones are reddish and the seed cones are large (often over 5 inches long), heavy cones concentrated in the tree tops. They are erect and the cones scales are nearly concealed by shaggy-edged, sharp pointed bracts. The cones dissipate in the fall to release their seeds.  The original Latin name Abies nobilis had to be changed when it was discovered another tree already had been given this name. However, the common name has persisted because of the magnificent proportions of the tree and the large, heavy cones.  

Range:

Nobles are native to the Siskiyou Mountains of northern California and the Cascade and Coastal ranges of Oregon and Washington. It closely resembles the California red fir (Abies magnifica var. magnifica), commonly used as an uncultured tree called "silver tips" in the California fresh tree market, and the shasta fir (Abies magnifica var. shastensis) that is grown in some Pacific Northwest Christmas tree plantations.  It grows in middle- to upper-elevation coniferous forests and is often associated with Abies amabilis (or "silver fir") and other conifers. The best stands are found in moist, middle elevation areas with deep, rich soils. Middle-elevation stands are usually more open than low-elevation forests and occur on poorer, thinner, rockier soils in areas more frequently disturbed by wind, snow and sometimes fire.  

Propagation:

Past research studies have identified certain geographic areas that appear to produce more higher grade Christmas trees than others. Consequently the majority of seed is picked from these regions.  Seedlings are routinely germinated both in bare root and container nurseries. They are then transplanted for one to two years before being sold as Christmas tree or timber stock.  

Uses:

Long considered an excellent Christmas tree because of its beauty, stiff branches and long keepability, the species is growing in popularity (between 25% and 30% of the fresh tree market in the Pacific Northwest). It is also widely used in the greenery business to make wreaths, door swags, garland and other Christmas products.  Its lumber is sometimes marketed as "Oregon larch" - possibly after the Larch Mountains because they were covered with towering stands of noble fir.  The wood is moderately strong and light weight. It is valued for its light color and uniform straight grain. The earlywood (spring wood) is creamy white to light brown and the latewood (summer wood) gradually changes to reddish brown or lavender tinged. The heartwood is indistinct.  The wood is easy to work. Its warm, light color and straight grain makes ideal interior finish material for siding, paneling and doors. It is often sold separately for appearance applications and as Hem-Fir (Hemlock-Fir) for construction applications.  

Folklore:

The R.A.F. Mosquito planes of World War II were built with noble fir frames.



GRAND FIR

 

Description:

The grand fir is one of the tallest firs, reaching heights of 300 feet. It is easily distinguished from other Pacific Northwest firs by its sprays of lustrous needles in two distinct rows. They are usually horizontally spread so that both the upper and lower sides of the branches are clearly visible. The needles are 1 to 1 1/2 inches long with glossy dark green tops and two highly visible white lines of stomata on the undersides.  The pollen strobili are yellowish and the cones are yellowish-green to green, cylindrical, erect, 2 to 4 inches long, occur high in the crowns and dissipate in the fall to release their seeds.  The bark is grayish-brown, usually with white mottles, smooth with resin blisters when young, becoming rigid and then scaly with age. Like most other true firs, it is thinned barked and therefore very sensitive to fire. Control of fires in the drier southern parts of the northwest has allowed a widespread increase of grand fir over the last 50 years.  

Range:

It grows from British Columbia inland to Montana and south into northern California. It grows in dry to moist coniferous forests in rain shadow areas, often in association with Douglas-fir. It commonly ranges from river flats to fairly dry slopes from low to middle elevations.  

Propagation:

Past research has identified the "Panhandle" area of Idaho as a desirable seed source. Most seedlings produced for Christmas tree growers originate from this region. It is germinated from seed in both greenhouses and bare root nurseries and usually transplanted in a nursery for one to two years.  

Uses:

It is a minor Christmas tree species throughout Washington and Oregon, but a major species in the inland states of Idaho and Montana. It produces a beautiful, thick foliaged tree when sheared and is known for its strong fragrance. In most areas, it will produce a marketable tree in eight to ten years.  Grand fir and white fir are softwoods with characteristics so similar that they are used interchangeably. They are moderately strong and light weight. Earlywood is creamy white to light brown while the latewood gradually changes to reddish brown or a lavender tinge. The heartwood is indistinct.  The wood is relatively straight grained and easy to work. It is most often sold as White Wood, Hem-Fir (Hemlock-Fir) or ES-AF-LP (includes Engelmann spruce, alpine fir and lodgepole pine) for construction. It is also used for boxes, decoration and utility. It has excellent resistance to splitting in nailing and screwing and has outstanding gluing qualities.  

Folklore:

Northwest native Americans have a history of making uses of grand fir foliage and branches. Kwakwaka'wakw shamans wove its branches into headdresses and costumes and used the branches for scrubbing individuals in purification rites. The Hesquiat tribes used its branches as incense and decorative clothing for wolf dancers.  It was occasionally used as a fuel. Some interior tribes such as the Okanogan, also made canoes from its bark. Pitch was applied to bows for a secure grip and rubbed on paddles and scorched for a good finish. A brown dye from its bark was used in making baskets by the Straits Salish tribe, along with a pink dye made by mixing the brown dye with red ochre. Knots were shaped, steamed and carved into halibut hooks by several coastal tribes.  Grand fir bark, sometimes mixed with stinging nettles, was boiled and the concoction used for bathing and as a general tonic. The Lushoot tribe boiled needles to make a medicinal tea for colds. The Ditidaht sometimes brought boughs inside as a air freshener and burned them as an incense and to make a purifying smoke to ward off illnesses. These people also crushed and mixed the bark of grand fir, red alder and western hemlock and made an infusion that was rank for internal injuries. The Hesquiat mixed the pitch of young trees with oil and rubbed it on the scalp as a deodorant and to prevent balding. 



FRASER FIR

 

Common Characteristics:

The Fraser fir branches turn slightly upward. They have good form and needle-retention. They are dark blue-green in color. They have a pleasant scent, and excellent shipping characteristics as well.

Description:

In many respects, Fraser fir and balsam fir are quite similar, although the geographic ranges of the two species do not overlap. Some scientists even suggest that because of the many similarities, the two species were once a single species which has since evolved into the present-day forms.
Fraser fir was named for John Fraser (1750-1811), a Scot botanist who explored the southern Appalachian Mountains in the late 18th century. The species is sometimes called Southern balsam or Southern balsam fir. Locally Fraser fir is known as "She balsam" because of the resin filled blisters on the tree's trunk. Red spruce, often associated with Fraser fir, is called "He balsam" and lacks the distinctive blisters.

Fraser fir is a uniformly pyramid-shaped tree which reaches a maximum height of about 80 feet and a diameter of 1-1.5 feet. Strong branches are turned slightly upward which gives the tree a compact appearance.

Leaves (needles) are flattened, dark-green with a medial groove on the upper side and two broad silvery-white bands on the lower surface. These bands consist of several rows of stomata (pores). Leaves are 1/2 to one inch long, have a broad circular base, and are usually dark green on the upper surface and lighter on the lower surface. On lower branches, leaves are two-ranked (occurring in two opposite rows). On upper twigs, leaves tend to curl upward forming a more "U-shaped" appearance.

Fraser fir is monecious meaning that both male and female flowers (strobili) occur on the same tree. Flowers are receptive in May to June depending on elevation and other environmental conditions. The species is wind pollinated, and cones mature in a single season. At maturity, cones are 2-2 1/2 inches long with bracts longer than the scales and appearing reflexed (bent over). The presence of these visible cone bracts is a distinguishing feature of Fraser fir as compared to balsam fir. Upon ripening in September to November, cones fall apart leaving an erect central core. Red squirrels are the primary consumers of seeds.

Bark is usually gray or gray-brown, thin, smooth with numerous resin blisters on young trees. As trees become older, the bark tends to develop into thin, papery scales.

Fraser fir is intermediate in shade tolerance and is usually found on fertile, rocky to sandy soils which are acidic. Natural associates are red spruce, beech and yellow birch. Rhododendrons also are found in this ecosystem, and add significant beauty during their flowering season.

The most damaging natural enemy is the balsam woolly adelgid (formerly called an aphid) which is an imported, wingless insect. Phytophthora root disease attacks Fraser fir, but is most harmful at lower elevations. Some scientists also point to air pollution as a contributor to the decline of many natural red spruce-Fraser fir stands.

The combination of form, needle retention, dark blue-green color, pleasant scent and excellent shipping characteristics has led to Fraser fir being a most popular Christmas tree species. North Carolina produces the majority of Fraser fir Christmas trees. It requires from 7 to 10 years in the field to produce a 6-7 feet tree.

Range:

Fraser fir has a somewhat restricted range. It grows naturally only at elevations above 4,500 feet in the Southern Appalachian Mountains from southwest Virginia, through western North Carolina, and into eastern Tennessee. A number of stands occur in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Its highest native habitat is Mt. Mitchell, North Carolina (6,684 feet) which is the highest U.S. point east of the Mississippi River. A variety of balsam fir, phanerolepis, occurs in the Northeast United States and Canada and as far south as West Virginia and Virginia (38 degees north latitude). This variety is best described as an intermediate form between balsam fir and Fraser fir and may represent a remnant of a once continuous range of the two species.

Propagation:

Most propagation is by seeds although propagation by cuttings, and grafting has also been used for special purposes. Propagation via tissue culture has been attempted but not on a large scale.

Uses:

Principal uses are generally the same as for balsam fir, although Fraser fir has been used less for timber because of the difficult terrain on which it grows. The wood is soft and brittle and may be used for pulpwood, light frame construction, interior knotty paneling, and crates. Fraser fir boughs have often been used for "pine pillows" and bed stuffing.



SCOTCH PINE

 

Common Characteristics:

Approximately 1 in. in length, these needles don't even fall when they're dry, providing excellent needle retention. The color is a bright green. The most common Christmas tree in the U.S., the scotch pine has an excellent survival rate, is easy to replant, has great keepability and will remain fresh throughout the holiday season.

Description:

Scotch or Scots pine is an introduced species which has been widely planted for the purpose of producing Christmas trees. It is an extremely hardy species which is adaptable to a wide variety of soils and sites. As a Christmas tree, it is known for its dark green foliage and stiff branches which are well suited for decorating with both light and heavy ornaments. It has excellent needle retention characteristics and holds up well throughout harvest, shipping and display.

The needles of Scotch pine are produced in bundles of two. They are variable in length, ranging from slightly over 1-inch for some varieties to nearly 3-inches for others. Color is likewise variable with bright green characteristic of a few varieties to dark green to bluish tones more prominent in others. The undersides of Scotch pine needles are characterized by several prominent rows of white appearing stomatal openings.

The bark of upper branches on larger, more mature trees displays a prominent reddish-orange color which is very distinctive and attractive. Large amounts of cones are likewise produced which often persist on the tree from one year to the next. Like most pines two growing seasons are required to produce mature cones. On excellent sites within its native range mature trees may reach a trunk diameter of 30 inches or more and individual trees may exceed 125 feet in height.

Range:

Scotch pine is native to Europe and Asia. From the British isles and Scandinavian peninsulas through central Europe south to the Mediterranean and east through eastern Siberia, Scotch pine can be found at varying elevations.Scotch pine was introduced to North America by European settlers and has long been cultivated, especially in the eastern United States and Canada. It is adaptable to a wide variety of sites and accordingly, has been widely planted for both Christmas tree and ornamental purposes. Although plantations have been established in the United States for the purpose of producing forest products, the species does not perform as well as in its native habitat.

Propagation:

Scotch pine is reproduced from seed. More than thirty five different seed sources or varieties are commercially recognized. Seed is obtained by international collectors and marketed through reputable seed dealers. A few seed orchards have been established in the United States from which seed is locally collected. For Christmas tree production purposes seed is usually sown in the spring and the resulting seedlings are allowed to grow for two years in the nursery bed before they are lifted and sold to Christmas tree producers. There has been some research by university personnel to identify and produce genetically improved planting stock, although these efforts have not been totally successful.

Uses:

In Europe and throughout several countries in Asia, Scotch pine is an important species of high economic value. Forest stands containing Scotch pine are managed to produce pulpwood, poles, and sawlogs from which dimension and finish lumber is produced. Logs from trees of large diameters are processed into veneer and used in manufacturing plywood. The species is also valued as an ornamental and landscape plant and has been widely planted in parks and gardens.

As a Christmas tree Scotch pine is probably the most commonly used species in the United States. Because of its ease of planting, generally high planting survival and favorable response to plantation culture it has been widely planted throughout much of the eastern United States and Canada. For several years it was the favorite species of large eastern wholesale growers because of its excellent harvesting and shipping qualities. It is also a preferred species for many choose and cut growers in much of the eastern and central United States.

When established in plantations usually 6 to 8 years are required to produce a 7 to 8 foot tree. The tree requires annual shearing, usually beginning the second or third year following planting and continuing on through the year of harvest. Scotch pine is host to a number of insect and disease problems, and continued protection from foliage and stem damaging agents is necessary. The species is not demanding with respect to fertility or moisture and supplemental fertilization or irrigation is not considered necessary.

As a Christmas tree Scotch pine is known for its excellent needle retention and good keepability. It resists drying and if permitted to become dry does not drop its needles. When displayed in a water filled container it will remain fresh for the normal 3 to 4 week Christmas season. Like all natural trees it is readily recyclable and has many different uses following the Christmas holidays.



COLORADO BLUE SPRUCE

 

Common Characteristics:

Often used for stuffing pine-pillows, these sharp needles are 1 - 1 ½ in. in length. This species is bluish-gray in color and has a bad odor when needles are crushed. This Christmas Tree has good symmetrical form and has an attractive blue foliage. It also has good needle retention.

Description:

Colorado blue spruce, or blue spruce, is an attractive tree often used for Christmas trees or as ornamentals, particularly in the eastern United States and Europe. It is the official state tree of both Colorado and Utah. The species generally reaches a height of 65-115 feet at maturity with a diameter of 2-3 feet. It has a narrow, pyramidal shape and cone-shaped crown. As trees become older, they often take on a more irregular appearance. While blue spruce grows relatively slowly, it is long-lived and may reach ages of 600-800 years.

Leaves (needles) are 1-1 1/2 inches long on lower branches but somewhat shorter on upper branches. They are 4-sided and have a very sharp point on the end. It is this point which gives the species its name "pungens", from the Latin word for sharp as in puncture wound. Needles are generally dull bluish-gray to silvery blue and emit a resinous odor when crushed. Some trees have a more distinct bluish-white or silvery-white foliage. The cultivated variety 'glauca' is noted for this type of coloration. Nursery managers also select for "shiners" which demonstrate this very desirable characteristic. Needles occur on small peg-like structures on the twig called sterigmata. The sterigmata persist on the twigs after needles have fallen, which is usually after the third or fourth year.

Both male and female flowers (strobili) occur in the same tree, although in different locations. Pollination occurs in late spring and cones mature in one season. In the fall, cones are 2-4 inches long and turn chestnut brown with stiff, flattened scales. Cones generally persist on the tree for one to two years after seed fall.

The bark is thin becoming moderately thick with age. It is somewhat pale gray in small flattened scales when young, then turns reddish brown and furrowed with age.

Blue spruce is moderately shade tolerant and grows best in deep, rich, gravely soils, often along stream banks and other sites with high moisture levels. It usually does not occur in large stands but is found in small groves or in association with Douglas-fir, lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce or ponderosa pine. A deep penetrating root system makes the species resistant to being blown over.

Major pests include the western spruce dwarf mistletoe, spruce bark beetle, and spruce budworm. Trees infected with mistletoe typically develop abnormal masses of branches called "witches brooms". With severe infestations, trees may be killed.

Blue spruce is finding increasing popularity as a Christmas tree as a result of its symmetrical form and attractive blue foliage. The species has an excellent natural shape and requires little shearing. Additionally, needle retention is among the best for the spruces. Its popularity as an ornamental leads many consumers to use blue spruce as a living Christmas tree, to be planted after the holiday season.\

Range:

Blue spruce occurs naturally from western Wyoming and eastern Idaho southward through central Colorado and Central Utah. The southern limits are New Mexico and Arizona. It occurs at elevations of 6,000 to 11,000 feet; generally at higher elevations in the more southern areas.

Propagation:

Most propagation is by seed but blue spruce can be grafted or grown from rooted cuttings. Vegetative propagation is more often used to perpetuate the rarer, more desirable forms of the species. Picea abies or Picea pungens are preferred rootstock for grafting.

Over 70 cultivated varieties have been named.

Uses:

The wood is light to pale brown in color and is lightweight, soft, and brittle. The lack of natural pruning leads to boards often being full of knots. Blue spruce grows in relatively inaccessible locations leading to its not being commercially important as a timber species. The wood is suitable, however, for posts, poles, and fuel.

Blue spruce has limited value to wildlife but does provide cover and seeds for squirrels, rodents and some birds.

In the western United States, the species has found some use in shelterbelts.



WHITE FIR

 

Common Characteristics:

These small, narrow needles are around 1 - 1 ½ in. in length and occur in rows. They have good foliage color, good needle retention, and a pleasing shape and aroma.

Description:

White fir, also commonly called concolor fir, is native to the western United States and may reach sizes of 130-150 ft. in height and 3 to 4 ft. in diameter. The oldest white firs may occasionally reach 350 years of age. It produces a spire-like crown with a straight trunk.

On older trees, the lower one-half to one-third of the crown is often free of branches.

Leaves (needles) are small and narrow and occur in rows. On upper branches, needles tend to be thicker and more curved than those on lower branches. Needles are usually 1/2 to 1 1/2 inch long, pointed or notched at the tip, bluish-green when young turning dull green with age. Typically, they are flat, without stalks.

The bark on younger trees is thin, smooth, gray with numerous resin-bearing pockets. Older bark is thicker, reddish-brown to light gray and broken into irregular, flattened scales.

Both male and female flowers (strobili) are found on the same tree. Pollination occurs in the spring and cones mature in one season. Cones are barrel-shaped, about 3 to 6 inches long, and mature in early fall. Cones are upright and generally disintegrate after seeds are shed. Good seed crops occur at 2- to 4-year intervals.

White fir is tolerant of a considerable amount of shade. Its best growth is on moist loamy soils, but may often be found on dry, thin soils. The species seldom occurs in pure stands but grows in association with numerous other species depending on location and elevation. White fir is commonly found with Douglas-fir, sugar pine, ponderosa pine, and red fir. White fir is severely damaged by mistletoe. Leaves of white fir are often attacked by spruce budworm and Douglas-fir tussock moth. Bark beetles may also be a serious problem in some areas. As a Christmas tree, white fir has good foliage color, a pleasing natural shape and aroma, and good needle retention.

Range:

White fir has one of the largest ranges of any of the commercial western firs. It can be found from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and New Mexico to the Coast Range in California and Oregon. White fir occurs from 6000 ft. to 11,000 ft. in elevation in the Rocky Mountains and as low as 2300 ft. near the Pacific Coast. Differences in habitat as well as growth requirements and morphological characteristics have led some authors to propose the separation of white fir into two taxonomic varieties, one in the Rocky Mountains and the other in the western part of the species' range.

Propagation:

Most propagation is by seed, although both rooting and grafting has been successful. Most vegetative propagation has been to increase the number of rarer forms. Several cultivars have been propagated including a weeping white fir sold under the name of Abies concolor `Pendula'.

Uses:

White fir is an excellent ornamental tree and is widely planted in the eastern United States and Canada. It is often used in cemeteries as a contrast to darker-colored evergreens.

The wood of white fir is light, soft and coarse-grained. Its primary uses have been for pulpwood, lumber, furniture, and boxes and crates. Because the wood lacks a distinctive odor, it was used in earlier times for tubs in which to store butter.

White fir is important to many species of wildlife. Blacktail and mule deer feed on the buds and leaves during the winter, porcupines eat the bark, and Douglas pine squirrels are fond of the seeds. Grouse may also eat seeds after they fall from the cones.



BALSAM FIR

 

Description:

First described in 1768, balsam fir is a medium-sized tree generally reaching 40-60 feet in height and 1-1 1/2 feet in diameter. It exhibits a relatively dense, dark-green, pyramidal crown with a slender spire-like tip. The scientific name "balsamea" is an ancient word for the balsam tree, so named because of the many resinous blisters found in the bark. Balsam fir and Fraser fir have many similar characteristics, although geographic ranges of the two species do not overlap.

On lower branches needles generally occur as two-ranked (two rows along sides of the branch), 3/4 - 1 1/2 inches long, spreading and not crowded. On older branches, the needles tend to be shorter and curved upward so as to cover the upper sides of the twigs. Individual needles are somewhat flat and may be blunt or notched at the end. Needles have a broad circular base and are usually dark green on the upper surface, lighter on the lower surface. Two silvery bands of stomata (pores) are found on the lower surface.

Balsam fir has both male and female flowers (or strobili) on the same tree. Flowers are receptive in late May to early June. The species is wind pollinated, and cones mature in a single season. At maturity, cones are 2 to 3 1/2 inches long with bracts shorter than scales. The presence of these short cone bracts is a distinguishing feature when balsam fir is compared Fraser fir. Upon ripening in September to November, cones fall apart leaving an erect central core.

Balsam fir bark is thin, ash-gray, and smooth except for numerous blisters on young trees. These blisters contain a sticky, fragrant, liquid resin. Thus, the species has been sometimes referred to as "blister pine". Upon maturity, bark may become up to 1/2 inch thick, red-brown and broken into thin scales.

The species thrives in cooler climates and demands abundant soil moisture and a humid atmosphere. It is generally found in the Canadian and Hudsonian zones from sea level to about 5,000 feet in elevation. Growth is best on well-drained, sandy loam soils that are somewhat acid. The species is tolerant of shade and may reach 150-200 years of age. Pure stands may be found in swamps, but balsam fir often occurs with white spruce, black spruce and aspen on upland sites.

Chief enemies are the spruce budworm and balsam woolly adelgid (formerly called an aphid), heart-rot fungi, and fire. A shallow root system also renders the trees vulnerable to high winds and heavy spring snow storms.

As a Christmas tree, balsam fir has several desirable properties. It has a dark-green appearance, long-lasting needles, and attractive form. It also retains its pleasing fragrance. Nine to ten years in the field are required to produce a 6-7 foot tree.

Range:

Abies balsamea occurs naturally from northern Alberta to Labrador, southward to Pennsylvania. This geographical distribution is larger than for any other North American fir species. A variety of balsam fir, phanerolepis, occurs as far south as West Virginia and Virginia (38 degrees north latitude). This variety is best described as an intermediate form between balsam fir and Fraser fir although classified with balsam fir.

Propagation:

Most propagation is by seeds, although natural layering may occur from lower branches in contact with moist soil. A few selected cultivated forms are commercially propagated by cuttings, and grafting has also been used for special purposes. Propagation via tissue culture has been attempted but not on a large scale.

Uses:

The wood is soft and brittle and has been used primarily for pulpwood. The wood is also used for light frame construction, interior knotty paneling, and crates. Wood resin in the bark blisters is the source of Canada balsam used for making of microscope slides. Resin was sold in stores as a confection prior to the advent of chewing gum, and resinous fir knots were once used as torches. A balm of balsam fir resin was used in Civil War as an external application to the injuries of combat. Balsam fir boughs are often used for stuffing "pine pillows", with the aromatic foliage serving as a deodorant.

Moose and whitetail deer browse the foliage, while chickadees, nutcrackers, squirrels and porcupines eat the seeds. The spruce grouse uses fir forests for cover and obtains food from the needles. 


 SILVER TIP 

About the Silvertip

A Silvertip is a young California Red fir, its botanical name is (Abies Magnifica.) The term "Silvertip" was mentioned in a literature written by John Muir, well known naturalist, in his observation of the distinct silvertips on the new growth, their layered wholes of limbs of green, blue color and symmetrical growth. Our silvertips grow naturally on our tree farm near Mt Lassen and also in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range at 5000 to 8000 ft. elevation.


Silvertips are a true high elevation fir. We do not use cloned trees so every tree is unique. Silvertips are slower growing than most other species used as Christmas trees. The Silvertips slow growth makes them a rare Christmas tree and not commonly found like the Douglas Fir. There are a number of reasons why the Silvertip Christmas tree is more special than any other Christmas tree.


Maybe it's because of family tradition, the silvery tips, the rarity of the tree or maybe it's the overall experience that these beautiful trees bring to your home.  Silvertip Christmas trees have been a traditional favorite, with their long lasting value, and sturdy limbs to hold your precious ornaments.


The Silver Tip Christmas tree is native to the high elevations in California. It has long been a favorite for those that like an open growth pattern. The  “Silver Tip” refers to the color and placement of the needles. The blue-green color on the tips of the branches is a different color then the interior green of the tree giving the appearance of the silver tipped branch. It has excellent keep ability, and very stiff branched to hold the heaviest of ornaments. Silver tips are a true high elevation fir mostly growing at 6000ft and above. Unlike other species that planted in straight rows, the Red Fir are mostly harvested from natural stands. This generally provides the advantage over lower elevation trees of keep ability. Since the trees are dormant when they are cut, they tend to hold up longer and better than others, and can be harvested earlier in the Season. Someone slices into the bark of a tree. If It  doesn’t bleed, the growing season is over, and it is safe to begin the harvest.


At that elevation, the growing season is reduced to about 20 to 25 days of foliage growth per year. If left to nature, it would take about 25 years to grow an 8 foot tree. In order to speed up the process, a whole new system of scarring, pruning, trimming, and fertilizing was eventually developed. Rather than harvest the trees at ground level, the trees are cut 3 or 4 feet above the stump, leaving 2 or 3 levels of foliage below the cut. This foliage then branches off in several directions, eventually turning towards the sun, giving the tree the look of a candelabra. The new branch is picked after a year or two, and the others are cut back. At some point the new trunk will be scarred, which will make the tree grow fuller. Pruning, trimming, and fertilizing will continue until it is time to harvest the second tree from the stump. This process the growing time of an 8 foot tree from 25 years to 15. Their slower growth makes them a rarer Christmas tree and not commonly found like the Douglas Fir.  

COMMON TREE CHARACTERISTICS

 WHITE PINE: The largest pine in the U.S., the white pine has soft, flexible needles and is bluish-green in color. Needles are 2½ - 5 inches long. White pines have good needle retention, but have little aroma. They aren't recommended for heavy ornaments.

WHITE SPRUCE: The white spruce is excellent for ornaments; its short, stiff needles are ½ to ¾ in. long and have a blunt tip. They are bluish-green - green in color, but have a bad aroma when needles are crushed. They have excellent foliage color and have a good, natural shape. The needle retention is better in a white spruce than it is among other spruces.

FRASER FIR: The Fraser fir branches turn slightly upward. They have good form and needle-retention. They are dark blue-green in color. They have a pleasant scent, and excellent shipping characteristics as well.

COLORADO BLUE SPRUCE: Often used for stuffing pine-pillows, these sharp needles are 1 to 1 ½ in. in length. This species is bluish-gray in color. Needles have an unpleasant odor when crushed. This Christmas Tree has good symmetrical form and an attractive blue foliage. It also has good needle retention.

CONCOLOR FIR: These small, narrow needles are around 1 to 1½ in. in length and occur in rows. They have good foliage color, good needle retention, and a pleasing shape and aroma.

DOUGLAS-FIR: These soft needles are dark green to blue green in color and are approximately 1 to 1 ½ in. in length.  Douglas-fir needles radiate in all directions from the branch. When crushed, these needles have a sweet fragrance. They are one of the top major Christmas tree species in the U.S.

BALSAM FIR: These needles are ¾ to 1½ in. in length and last a very long time. This tree has a dark-green appearance and retains its pleasing fragrance throughout the Christmas season.

SCOTCH PINE: Approximately 1 in. in length, these needles don't even fall when they're dry, providing excellent needle retention. The color is a bright green.  A common Christmas tree in the U.S., the scotch pine has an excellent survival rate, is easy to replant, has great keepability and will remain fresh throughout the holiday season.

NOBLE FIR: These needles turn upward, exposing the lower branches. Known for its beauty, the noble fir has a long keepability, and its stiff branches make it a good tree for heavy ornaments, as well as providing excellent greenery for wreaths and garland.

LEYLAND CYPRESS: The most popular Christmas tree in the southeast, the Leyland cypress is dark green-gray in color and has very little aroma. Because it is not in the pine or fir family, it does not produce sap, so those with an allergy to sap can still enjoy a Leyland as their Christmas Tree.

VIRGINIA PINE: These branches are stout and woody and respond very well to trimming. The tree is small to medium in size and its foliage becomes extremely dense. Aside from being a good nesting site for woodpeckers, the Virginia pine continues to be one of the more popular Christmas tree in the south.

 


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Brent's Christmas Trees

Corner of Doolittle Drive & Harbor Bay Parkway, Alameda, CA 94501

(510) 635-2773

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