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Demystifying Christmas Tree Buying

Our guide to five of the best-selling conifers this season

Top Christmas Tree Picks

Photo by Blend Images - Ariel Skelley/Getty

You couldn't pick a better year to buy a real Christmas tree—experts say you'll see a wider variety of species and sizes. But which type is right for you? Read on for the five names to remember.

Blue Spruce

Photo by WILDLIFE GmbH/Alamy

Shape: Perfectly symmetrical, this tree looks full with few gaps.

Needles: Short blue needles are 1 inch to 1½ inches long with an extremely sharp point at the end.

Scent: Mild aroma, but if you crush the needles, they produce a resiny smell.

Trimmings: Holds most ornaments; prickly needles make inner-limb decorating a challenge.

White Pine

Photo by Nature Photographers Ltd./Alamy

Shape: Elegantly conical; needles are grouped in clusters, so you'll see more trunk.

Needles: Long, flexible needles (2½ to 5 inches long) are gentle enough for delicate skin.

Scent: Minimal fragrance makes it a good choice for sensitive noses.

Trimmings: More of a tinsel-and-lights tree; soft needles can cause ornaments to slip.

Scotch Pine

Photo by DDCoral/ShutterStock

Shape: The most popular tree in the U.S., this pine is symmetrical and dense-looking, thanks to full branches.

Needles: Bright green needles grow up to 3 inches long; resists shedding, even if you forget to water it.

Scent: It has a lasting, pleasant piney aroma.

Trimmings: The branches are sturdy, so bring on the heavy decorations.

Balsam Fir

Photo by Neil Fletcher and Matthew Ward/Getty Images

Shape: A thin, spire-like top (perfect for a star or an angel) sets this pyramid-shaped tree apart.

Needles: Short, long-lasting dark green needles are ¾ inch to 1½ inches long and tend to be flat or blunt at the tip.

Scent: Its strong evergreen scent can easily fill a room.

Trimmings: Dense limbs can hold weighty ornaments and larger globe or C-bulb lights.

Fraser Fir

Photo by ©Bruce Coleman Inc./Alamy

Shape: The branches turn slightly upward, giving it a full, compact appearance.

Needles: Short dark green needles have a silvery underside and are ½ to 1 inch long; resists shedding.

Scent: Its fresh, mild fragrance is subtler than the balsam's.

Trimmings: Thick branches will hold most decorations; it's easy to reach interior branches, so cords are less visible.