Amongst all the varieties of trees now available to buy for Christmas, you may like to look for a slightly more unusual variety, the Balsam Fir, or Abies Balsamea Miller to give it its full name.

Until relatively recently it may not have been an obvious choice to grow as a commercial Christmas tree, in its native Canadian habitat the Balsam Fir can live for up to 200 years. It is also relatively slow growing, making about 6 – 7 foot in 9 or 10 years, so it is not the cheapest to produce.

However it has some very nice characteristics which have made it an increasingly popular choice as a cut tree for the festive season. They are available in all sizes and are usually sold at 1 to 1.5 foot diameter, which makes it easy to place in the average sized home.

The shape is its most attractive feature; the branches are tightly packed into a dense, dark green pyramid shape which lends itself particularly well to being easy to decorate. It also has a long spire like top which holds a star or angel nicely and really gives a good finishing touch.

The needles are very attractive, dark green on the top and lighter on the lower surface. The Balsam Fir is not the most fragrant variety available, but if you buy a young tree it will usually have sticky resin blisters on the bark which have a lovely fragrance.

If, therefore, you are looking for a tree which has an exceptionally lovely shape, so nice in fact that however poor your decorating skills it will look good, the Balsam Fir is an ideal choice!

Remember however that like all cut real Christmas trees you do need to ensure that you buy one which is as fresh as possible to maximise its life indoors. Keep it in water from the moment you get it home and keep it in as cool a spot as possible indoors. With these few simple precautions you can enjoy it for about 2 weeks, as long as most other trees.