University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Winter (holiday) News Article


FACTS ABOUT CHRISTMAS TREES
 
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
 
           
Knowing a few facts about Christmas trees and their production will give you a new appreciation of them this holiday season, and may help you choose between a real tree and an artificial one.
--Real trees are grown on farms like other crops.  To ensure enough trees for harvest, growers plant one to three seedlings for every tree harvested.  An estimated 40 to 45 million trees were planted in 2007 in North America.
--Christmas tree farms stabilize soil, protect water supplies, and provide refuge for wildlife.  Often these trees can be grown on poor soils where other crops wont grow.  About a half million acres are used in this country to grow Christmas trees, preserving much green space.
--An acre of Christmas trees produces enough daily oxygen for 18 people.  The trees on farms in this country currently provide enough oxygen for 18 million people a day.
--There are an estimated 446 million trees growing on farms in this country.
--These trees are grown by about 21,000 farms in this country, which employ about 100,000 people either full or part time.
--Time to grow a tree (6 to 7 feet) for sale can vary from 4 to 15 years, with the average being 7.
--About 25 to 30 million real trees are sold in this country every year.
--Top selling trees include balsam fir, Fraser fir, and Scotch pine.
--The top tree growing states are Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Washington.
--While many real trees in the north are locally grown, supporting local agriculture, over 80 percent of artificial trees worldwide are made in China.
--No chemicals and few pesticides (if any) are used on real trees, with studies showing no residues on harvested trees.  Artificial trees are often plastic, and may contain the dangerous chemical PVC.  Manufacture of PVC creates the most toxic man-made chemicals, dioxins.  Artificial trees also may contain metal toxins such as lead.
--Christmas trees in home, both real and artificial, account for less than one-tenth of one percent of all home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.  Real trees kept fresh are difficult to ignite.
--Real Christmas trees are recyclable, often chipped into mulch at local recycling centers.  The average family uses an artifical tree for 6 to 9 years before discarding, where it will remain in landfills for centuries as they are not recyclable.
--A study by Swedish researchers found that, considering all the inputs, a real tree is five times more environmentally compatible than an artifical one. 
           
More facts on Christmas trees, including their history and how to care for them, are available from the National Christmas Tree Association (www.christmastree.org).
 

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