Christmas Trees

Types of Trees

Carolina Saphire
Cupressus glabra


Carolina Sapphire is a registered cultivar of Arizona cypress. The tree has a natural Christmas tree shape and responds well to cultural practices. Tree shaping allows the toughening of branches and makes them stronger for holding ornaments. The tree has a natural blue-green color and a pleasing citrus-like aroma. The leaves are actually small scales lying along the branch surface. 

 There are about 30 cultivars of Arizona cypress. Carolina Sapphire is the most commercially significant cultivar. It was selected by Dr. Roland Schoenike (Professor with the Clemson University Forestry Department) and Marvin Gaffney (Director of Nurseries for the South Carolina Forestry Commission) in 1968 from trees growing on Tom Wright's Tree Farm in Ward, South Carolina. The trees growing at Wright's were produced from germinated wild seed Schoenike had collected from select trees in the Southwest in 1961.  After several years of producing new trees as rooted cuttings the unique characteristics of these plants qualified them for registration by the Royal Horticultural Society (the international authority for the registration of conifer names) as a registered cultivar in 1987.

Eastern Redcedar

Juniperus virginiana L.



The Eastern Redcedar is to many people in the South the traditional Christmas tree. One characteristic people love is the cedar aroma. The needles are very small and are usually arranged in opposing pairs along the branchlets. They are a medium green to bronze green color. It is not uncommon to find blue berries on the tree. These berries are a favorite food for birds. The birds digest the fleshy part of the fruit and pass the hard shell seeds anywhere they sit. We used to buy Redcedar seedlings for replacement trees. Today we dig seedlings that have grown from the seeds deposited by bird under trees around our farm.

This tree scientific name tells us the tree is not a true cedar but a member of the juniper family. Numerous cultivars of Eastern Redcedar are grown for landscape purposes. We actually have one tree that is being tested as a cultivar that has soft  needles.

Eastern White Pine

Pinus strobus L. 


White pine Christmas trees have soft blue-green needles that grow in bundles of five needles that tend to flare and form an open airy or cloudlike cluster. The needles create a graceful and delicate appearance. Needle retention is good to excellent. The tree has a faint pine aroma. Unsheared trees are relatively open and have many open spaces. Proper shaping practices produce a well formed tree with uniform branch spacing. Heavy shaping produces a dense tree shape with no space for ornaments 

The natural range of this tree in South Carolina is the mountain and foothill regions.
Fraser Fir

Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poir. 


Fraser fir is a uniformly pyramid-shaped tree with slightly upward turned branches. Needles are ½ to one inch long, flattened, dark-green to blue-green on the upper side and with two broad silvery-white bands on the lower surface. Pleasing characteristics are needle retention, color, a pleasant scent and excellent shipping characteristics.
Fraser fir has a restricted range and grows naturally only at elevations above 4,500 feet in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of southwest Virginia, western North Carolina, and eastern Tennessee. 

Leyland Cypress

x Cupressocyparis leylandii 


There are many cultivars of Leyland cypress. The foliage varies from one cultivar to the next. In general the foliage is arranged in irregular flat planes. The shoots branch frequently and can easily be shaped into a pleasing Christmas tree. We have two cultivars on our farm. Leighton green has a medium green color and a medium texture while Murray has a dark green color and a more coarse texture. The trees have exceptional needle holding capacity and have little aroma.

Unshaped Leyland cypress trees have low branch strength. Shaped trees will have moderate branch strength to exceptional branch strength, depending on the shearing practices used. 

 Leyland cypress trees are a hybrid of Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) and Alaskan cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis). They were first discovered in 1888 by C. J. Leyland at Leighton Hall in the South of Wales. The two parent trees were growing on the Estate and cross bred purely by accident.

The first rooted cuttings arrived in United States in California in 1941.Their potential for use as a Christmas tree was discovered in South Carolina in 1965.

These trees are rapidly growing in popularity as Christmas trees throughout the southeast.

Virginia Pine

Pinus virginiana (Mill.)


Virginia pine needles occur in pairs and have an artistic twisted appearance.
 Needles are from 1.5 to 3" in length. The branches are stout and woody and will hold any ornament. The tree has a pleasing pine aroma that lasts through the Christmas season. It is not uncommon to find cones that are 2 inches long on the trees.

Virginia pine responds well to shaping. Genetically selected trees have only been available for a few years.