The Southern California Christmas Tree

  • Say the words “Christmas tree” and you’re probably picturing stately conifers like fir, pine, spruce, and cedar, or even the less common cypress. You might be familiar with Scotch pine, Virginia pine, and Eastern white pine, and you’ve likely never heard of Monterey pine.
  • In fact, it doesn’t even make the list of popular Christmas trees at the National Christmas Tree Association.
  • But in Southern California, Monterey pine (Pinus radiata) is the de facto Christmas tree, grown on suburban tree farms spanning hundreds of acres in our Mediterranean climate.
  • It is the quintessential Southern California Christmas tree, and only here will you find families out in the fields, hunting for that perfect Christmas tree in December while wearing shorts and flip flops. (And as you can see, I was completely overdressed in my flannel and jeans.)
  • For the first time since we started dating eight years ago, the hubby and I are spending Christmas at home. Just us and the pugs, and our extended family of friends on Christmas Eve. His mother gifted us with a box of ornaments from his childhood in hopes that we would start our own holiday tradition, and that included trimming our own Christmas tree.
  • It would’ve been easy to just pluck a tree out of a parking lot and call it a day, but we wanted to make a real, full day of it—out on a farm, strolling among stands of trees until we found the perfect one.
  • Our nearest tree farm was an hour away in Orange County, just off a highway in Carbon Canyon. It was 75°F that afternoon, and the palm trees towering above the pine groves made the excursion feel more like a summer vacation than a Christmas tradition.
  • Like all Christmas tree farms in Southern California, Peltzer Pines specializes in Monterey pines, which have long, soft needles, a deep green color and a rich pine fragrance.