January 28, 2021

Christmas tree species native to Illinois

NASHVILLE, Ill. — There are 21 Christmas tree species sold and grown in the United States, with six of them native to Illinois.

University of Illinois Extension’s commercial ag educators support Christmas tree farmers throughout the state by advising on disease management by species, providing hyper-local, relevant research and, generally, helping farmers maintain a healthy tree farm year-round.

“Despite COVID-19 putting a damper on the holiday season, you can still support local businesses and buy from Christmas tree farms,” said Sarah Vogel, U of I Extension horticulture and natural resources educator and certified arborist.

The National Christmas Tree Association has issued COVID-19 safety guidelines. It is up to individual farms to implement them.

“There are still some local tree farms are up and running this year where people can purchase a fresh, cut tree to enjoy this season. We encourage tree shoppers to call ahead and confirm operation hours and understand COVID safety protocols each farm may have in place,” Vogel said.

In addition to cutting a live tree, shoppers may also consider the use of live, ball and burlap trees so that they may be planted after usage.

“As with any planting, make sure to choose the right site for the plant. Your local Extension office will provide planting information, if needed,” Vogel said.

Vogel said recommended natives might include jack pine, shortleaf pine, eastern white pine, eastern redcedar, or arborvitae.

Fresh, cut Christmas trees should be recycled once the holiday season is over, rather than set out curbside for the landfill. U of I Extension recommends landscape recycling or composting centers for eco-friendly disposal of trees.

Trees can be repurposed by mulching or chipping them for garden beds or turning it into a fun family activity putting berries, seeds and popcorn on it outside for the birds. Trees may also be disposed of in a private pond to serve as a fish breeding structure.