One of the many reasons why I’ll never have an artificial Christmas tree is the fragrance of a real tree. No matter what type of tree you have in your home, it smells like the forest and, to me, it smells like Christmas. Fragrance is the main feature of Abies grandis, the Grand Fir. It’s long, dark green and glossy needles have a wonderful citrusy scent. Pick a few needles off a tree and crush them between your fingers and you’ll see what I mean.

This fir can be found growing in several areas of the southern half of the province; eastern Vancouver Island, the south coast and the valleys of the Kootenay and Arrow lakes region as well as throughout the Pacific Northwest states of the US. It is a tall and stately tree, growing 40 to 50 metres tall. Abies grandis can tolerate drier conditions than most true firs, so it is often seen growing in mixed stands with Douglas Fir, Hemlock and White Pine. It is not a good candidate for growing in the Okanagan however, still too dry!

The undersides of the needles are a silvery-white, which reflect Christmas lights beautifully. Most Grand Fir grown on Christmas tree farms get their start from seed sourced in Idaho. Grand Fir bark has blisters that contain a fragrant, clear resin that has been used to prevent infection on small cuts and insect bites. This pitch is very sticky; native peoples used it on the handles of their canoe paddles to provide a secure grip. They also used the thin bark to build canoes.

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