What is the one thing that most represents Christmas to you?
If you’re like many, the answer is a Christmas tree. Now, whether that tree is put up the day after Thanksgiving or the night before Christmas, whether it’s grand and glowing with decorations or small and simply adorned, that all varies. But the tree itself, that’s something a lot of us have in common. The finding and decorating of the family Christmas tree may be one of our most ubiquitous holiday traditions.
As you head out to find that perfect tree your family, here’s a roundup of the different types of Christmas trees grown here in South Carolina. Like the homes that host them, each is different in its very own way, with its own strengths, weaknesses and even, in some cases, distinctive scent:
One of the most widely grown Christmas trees, the Virginia Pine has short needles, dense foliage and a pleasant pine scent. Its strong branches make it an excellent choice for hanging heavy ornaments.
White Pine is a dense, full tree with has soft, blue green needles, a pleasant pine scent and decorates well with lightweight ornaments.
One of the most popular Christmas trees, the Leyland Cypress drops very few needles and with proper care, will easily stay fresh through the entire Christmas season. In addition to being a beautiful tree with soft foliage, it is grown from cuttings and does not produce pollen; therefore enabling many asthma suffers to enjoy a real tree in their home.
One of the newer species developed for Christmas trees, the Carolina Sapphire has foliage that is blue green in color, soft to the touch and very dense with an outstanding aroma. Because of its tendency to dry out even in water stands, it is recommended not cutting this type of tree until three to four weeks before Christmas.
Eastern Red Cedar
If you grew up in the South, you probably had this type of tree in your home as a child. The traditional native Christmas tree of the South, the Eastern Red Cedar has a wonderful cedar aroma with dense (and sometimes prickly) foliage. Like the Carolina Sapphire, it can dry out even in water stands, so its best not to cut this tree until two to three weeks before Christmas.
In the Charleston area, most Christmas tree yards open shortly after Thanksgiving. And if you want to pick and cut your own tree, you can do that as well. The South Carolina Christmas Tree Association has an online directory of Christmas tree farms in Charleston and nearby counties.
No matter where or how you find your tree, here’s a bit of Christmas trivia to take with you. The first Christmas tree was decorated in Riga, Latvia in 1510. Men of the local merchants’ guild decorated a tree with artificial roses, danced around it in the marketplace and then… set fire to it. Thankfully, some things changed over time.