Artificial Christmas Trees

Most fake trees (85%) in the U.S. are imported from China, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

One of the first artificial Christmas trees was made using goose feathers that were dyed green. The German feather trees were one response by Germans to continued deforestation in Germany in the 1880s. The German feather trees[1] eventually made their way to the United States where they became rather popular as well. In fact, the use of natural Christmas trees in the United States was pre-dated by a type of artificial tree. These first trees were wooden, tree-shaped pyramids lit by candles, they were developed in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, by the German Moravian Church in 1747.

Families have also adopted buying Artificial Christmas Trees that can last them years and years instead of cutting down a live tree. By the early 1900s, the Addis Brush Company in America realized that there must be a better way to build an Artificial Christmas Tree.

Addis was known for making one of the first toilet bowl brushes. They used the same methods for constructing an artificial Christmas tree, which had huge advantages over the goose feather trees and they could hold more weight and subsequently more ornaments. The Addis “Silver Pine” tree was patented in 1950. The Christmas tree was designed to have a revolving light source under it and colored gels allowed the light to shine in different shades as it revolved under the tree. Aluminum trees[2] came next, gaining popularity in the 1950s. They were the first successful commercial Christmas Tree that wasn’t white, adored for their futuristic look.

Aluminum trees were manufactured in the United States, first in Chicago in 1958, and later in Manitowoc, Wisconsin where the majority of the trees were produced. They were made until the 1970s and were at the height of popularity until about 1965 when “A Charlie Brown Christmas” aired for the first time, and its negative portrayal of aluminum Christmas trees is credited for a subsequent decline in sales.

In the 1980s, plastic trees made from PVC plastic[3] became popular, and have maintained that since then. These trees work so well because they look almost exactly like fresh-cut trees, and don’t need to be thrown away after every season. Modern artificial trees also come pre-lit, making setup even simpler! They’re incredibly easy to put together, making them a decoration that can be used in any room. Some trees, called quick-set trees, have electrified poles that turn on as soon as you plug them in.

Companies such as Mountain King, Barcana, and the National Tree Company have marketed increasingly realistic PVC trees made to closely resemble Douglas fir, Ponderosa pine, or other common types of Christmas trees. During the 1990s trees not only began to appear more realistic but some also smelled more realistic. Many of these more modern models come with pre-strung lights and hinged branches which simply had to be snapped into position.

More recently, companies such as Balsam Hill have begun to use (PE) plastic molded from natural tree branches in an effort to create more realistic artificial Christmas trees. Fiber optic trees[4] come in two major varieties, one resembles a traditional Christmas tree. The other type of fiber optic Christmas tree is one where the entire tree is made of wispy fiber optic cable, a tree composed entirely of light. David Gutshall, of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, received a patent for the latter type of fiber optic tree in 1998.

One Dallas-based company offers “holographic mylar” trees in many hues. Tree-shaped objects made from such materials as cardboard, glass, ceramic, or other materials can be found in use as tabletop decorations. Upside-down artificial Christmas trees were originally introduced as a marketing gimmick;

they allowed consumers to get closer to ornaments for sale in retail stores as well as opened up floor space for more products. There were three varieties of upside-down trees, those bolted to the ceiling, stand-alone trees with a base, and half-trees bolted to walls. And if they miss the real smell of the tree, manufacturers sell pine-scented sprays to add to the ambiance.

Today families enjoy the choice of buying Artificial Christmas Trees in all shapes, colors, and sizes. You can buy white, pink, green, flocked, or iced Christmas trees ranging in size from 12 inches up to 40 feet. and they come pre-wired with an assortment of different types of lights to brighten your holidays.

  1. Feather trees were initially made of green-dyed goose feathers which were attached to wire branches. The feathers were split and then secured with wire to form the branches. These wire branches were then wrapped around a central dowel which acted as the trunk. The branches were widely spaced to keep the candles from starting a fire, which allowed ample space for ornamentation. Feather Christmas trees ranged widely in size, from a small 2-inch tree to a large 98-inch tree sold in department stores during the 1920s. Often, the tree branches were tipped with artificial red berries which acted as candle holders. [Back]
  2. Aluminum trees have been said to be the first artificial Christmas trees that were not green in color. It is more accurate to say that aluminum Christmas trees were the first nongreen Christmas trees commercially successful on a grand scale. Long before aluminum Christmas trees were commercially available at least by the late 19th century, white “Christmas trees” were made at home by wrapping strips of cotton batting around leafless branches, making what appeared to be snow-laden trees that stayed white in the home. These non-green trees made perfect displays for ornaments and dropped no needles. After Christmas, the cotton was unwrapped and stored with the ornaments for the next year while the branches were burnt or otherwise discarded. Flocked trees, real or artificial, to which flocking was applied became fashionable for the wealthy during the 1930s and have been commercially available since. A 1937 issue of Popular Science advocated spraying aluminum paint using an insect spray gun to coat Christmas trees causing it to appear as if “fashioned of molten silver”. Aluminum Christmas trees were first commercially manufactured sometime around 1955, remained popular into the 1960s, and were manufactured into the 1970s. The trees were first manufactured by Modern Coatings, Inc. of Chicago. Between 1959 and 1969, the bulk of aluminum Christmas trees was produced in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, by the Aluminum Specialty Company; in that decade the company produced more than one million aluminum trees. At the time they were produced in Manitowoc the trees, including the company’s flagship product the “Evergleam”, retailed for $25 and wholesaled for $11.25 [Back]
  3. Polyvinyl chloride abbreviated: as PVC, is the world’s third-most widely produced synthetic polymer of plastic (after polyethylene and polypropylene). About 40 million tons of PVC are produced each year. PVC comes in two basic forms: rigid (sometimes abbreviated as RPVC) and flexible. The rigid form of PVC is used in construction for pipe and in profile applications such as doors and windows. It is also used in making plastic bottles, non-food packaging, food-covering sheets, and plastic cards (such as bank or membership cards). It can be made softer and more flexible by the addition of plasticizers, the most widely used being phthalates. In this form, it is also used in plumbing, electrical cable insulation, imitation leather, flooring, signage, phonograph records, inflatable products, and many applications where it replaces rubber. Cotton or linen is used in the production of canvas. Pure polyvinyl chloride is a white, brittle solid. It is insoluble in alcohol but slightly soluble in tetrahydrofuran. [Back]
  4. An optical fiber, or optical fiber in Commonwealth English, is a flexible, transparent fiber made by drawing glass (silica) or plastic to a diameter slightly thicker than that of human hair. Optical fibers are used most often as a means to transmit light[a] between the two ends of the fiber and find wide usage in fiber-optic communications, where they permit transmission over longer distances and at higher bandwidths (data transfer rates) than electrical cables. Fibers are used instead of metal wires because signals travel along them with less loss; in addition, fibers are immune to electromagnetic interference, a problem from which metal wires suffer.[2] Fibers are also used for illumination and imaging and are often wrapped in bundles so they may be used to carry light into, or images out of confined spaces, as in the case of a fiberscope. Specially designed fibers are also used for a variety of other applications, some of them being fiber optic sensors and fiber lasers. [Back]

Further Reading


Dambly’s Garden Center
Artificial Plants and Trees

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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