The Christmas tree lot was born in 1851. That was the year following the Christmas tree illustration in Godey’s. What happened is that a woodsman by the name of Mark Carr chopped down a couple dozen evergreens in the Catskill Mountains. He loaded them on a sled and transported them with a team of oxen to Manhattan’s Washington Market. He thought he was taking a risk. Instead, the astonished New Yorkers who happened through Washington Market the day he arrived quickly snapped up his entire stock.
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, today there are close to 350 million trees growing on 15,000 Christmas tree farms in the United States alone. U.S. consumers purchase between 25 and 30 million real trees each year, spending $1.32 billion annually and supporting 100,000 full-time and seasonal jobs. For every Christmas tree harvested, one to three seedlings are planted the following spring. It can take as long as 15 years to grow a 6-7 foot tree, but the average growing time is 7 years.
The top Christmas tree producing states are Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington. The most common tree species are balsam fir, Douglas fir, Fraser fir, noble fir, Scotch pine, Virginia pine and white pine. Real trees are a renewable, recyclable resource – compared to artificial trees, which contain non-biodegradable plastics and toxic metals such as lead. Still, Americans also purchase between 8 and 10 million fake trees each year.