Red Fir (Silver Tip) Christmas Trees
The Silver Tip Christmas tree is native to the high elevations in California. It has long been a favorite for those that like an open growth pattern. The “Silver Tip” refers to the color and placement of the needles. The blue-green color on the tips of the branches is a different color then the interior green of the tree giving the appearance of the silver tipped branch. It has excellent keep ability, and very stiff branched to hold the heaviest of ornaments.
Silver tips are a true high elevation fir mostly growing at 6000ft and above. Unlike other species that planted in straight rows, the Red Fir are mostly harvested from natural stands.This generally provides the advantage over lower elevation trees of keep ability. Since the trees are dormant when they are cut, they tend to hold up longer and better than others, and can be harvested earlier in the Season. Someone slices into the bark of a tree. If It doesn’t bleed, the growing season is over, and it is safe to begin the harvest.
At that elevation, the growing season is reduced to about 20 to 25 days of foliage growth per year. If left to nature, it would take about 25 years to grow an 8 foot tree. In order to speed up the process, a whole new system of scarring, pruning, trimming, and fertilizing was eventually developed. Rather than harvest the trees at ground level, the trees are cut 3 or 4 feet above the stump, leaving 2 or 3 levels of foliage below the cut.
This foliage then branches off in several directions, eventually turning towards the sun, giving the tree the look of a candelabra. The new branch is picked after a year or two, and the others are cut back. At some point the new trunk will be scarred, which will make the tree grow fuller. Pruning, trimming, and fertilizing will continue until it is time to harvest the second tree from the stump. This process the growing time of an 8 foot tree from 25 years to 15.
Their slower growth makes them a rarer Christmas tree and not commonly found like the Douglas Fir.