Picea abies – Norway Spruce has an undeserved reputation for shedding needles, as this has not been a problem for me with either cut or live trees. The mid green branches form a dense crown and are quite stiff, making them ideal for supporting those larger ornaments. It is a bit prickly, but that helps to keep the cats at bay. Grows 70’+ high by 20′ wide. Hardy to zone 3.
Abies koreana – This Korean native is a relative newcomer as far as Christmas trees are concerned and they are usually only available as live specimens. It is a slow-growing species with handsome dark green needles (that are not prickly) and a sharply contrasting silver reverse. It produces attractive violet-blue cones. Grows 30′ high by 20′ wide. Hardy to zone 5.
Picea glauca ‘Conica’ (syn. ‘Albertiana Conica’) – Dwarf Alberta Spruce is the perfect miniature Christmas tree for apartment dwellers or those that want a conifer in a pot by the front door to put a few lights on. It can even be brought indoors for a short period of time (7-10 days in a cool room) if you acclimate it as it goes in and out. Grows 6-8′ high by 4-5′ wide. Hardy to zone 2.
Abies fraseri – Fraser Fir is quickly gaining popularity as a long-lasting cut tree (and a good live specimen), rivaling even the Noble Fir. It features slightly up-swept branches with 1/2 to 1″ long dark green needles with a pungent fragrance. The stems are rigid and good for holding ornaments, and depending on pruning it can have open spacing near the tips. Grows 30-40′ high. Zone 4.
Abies lasiocarpa – This species very much resembles Noble Fir but has wider branch separations (determined somewhat by pruning) making it easier to tuck those larger Christmas ornaments in. Naturally grown cut Alpine Firs often have a very narrow growth habit ideal for placing near stairs or entrances. It has greyish-green needles. Grows 60’+ tall by 10′. Zone 3.