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Interesting Christmas tree facts
by Ron Wolford
December 12, 2014

What do you really know about Christmas trees and their history? Ron Wolford, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator, offers the following list of interesting Christmas tree facts.

• The tradition of an official Chicago Christmas tree was initiated in 1913 when one was first lit by Mayor Carter H. Harrison in Grant Park.

• From 1887 to 1933, a fishing schooner called the "Christmas Ship" would tie up at the Clark Street Bridge in Chicago and sell spruce trees from Michigan to Chicagoans.

• In the 1930s, the Addis Brush Company created the first artificial Christmas tree made from brush bristles. The company used the same machinery that it used to manufacture toilet brushes, but they were dyed green.

• In 1963, the National Christmas Tree was not lit until December 22 because of a national 30-day period of mourning following the assassination of President Kennedy.

• The official Christmas tree tradition at Rockefeller Center began in 1933. Since 2004, the tree has been topped with a 550-pound Swarovski Crystal star. And, since 2007, the tree has been lit with 30,000 energy-efficient LEDs that are powered by solar panels.

• Christmas trees are grown and harvested in all 50 states.

• Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are the top five Christmas tree-producing states.

• It takes six to ten years of fighting heavy rain, wind, hail, and drought to grow a mature tree.

• More than 2,000 trees are usually planted per acre. On average 1,000 to 1,500 of these trees will survive. In the northern part of the country, perhaps 750 trees will remain.

• An acre of Christmas trees provides the daily oxygen requirements of 18 people.

• Artificial trees will last for six years in your home, but for centuries in a landfill.

• Nearly 33 million farm-grown Christmas trees were purchased in the United States in 2013 with a real market value of $1.16 billion.

• Live Christmas trees are involved in less than one-tenth of 1 percent of residential fires, and mostly when ignited by some external ignition sources. The major factors involved in Christmas tree fires are electrical problems, decorative lights, candles, or a heat source too close to the tree.

Check out the University of Illinois Extension website Christmas Trees & More for more information:

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row