Facts about the West Virginia-grown U.S. Capitol Christmas tree

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Facts about the West Virginia-grown U.S. Capitol Christmas tree
Snow lies on a Norway spruce, the world's most popular Christmas tree species. (Photo courtesy Aaron Burden)

HARMAN, W.Va. — A West Virginia-grown Christmas tree harvested in the Monongahela National Forest will adorn the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., in 2023 — the third time a West Virginia tree has appeared on the grounds that look across the National Mall toward the Lincoln Memorial.

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The first and second occasions a tree from the Mountain State was used were in 1970 and 1976, according to officials at the U.S. Forest Service, members of which harvested the specimen during an idyllic autumn snow on November 1 from the Laurel Fork Campground in the Monongahela National Forest.

Forest Service staff gather at the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree harvest event. (Photo courtesy Tanya Flores)

Forest officials have provided some of the following facts about the tree, elaborated on by the editorial staff at West Virginia Explorer Magazine.

🎄 The tree is a Norway spruce (Picea abies) native to Europe. Norway spruces are widely planted worldwide as Christmas trees. Every Christmas, Oslo, the Norwegian capital, provides spruce trees to London, Edinburgh, and Washington, D.C.

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🎄 The tree is 63 feet tall, though specimens may grow to 180 feet tall in their native range.

🎄 The tree weighs about 8,000 pounds.

🎄 The tree is about 38 years old, based on its rings. The lifespan of Norway spruce is up to 300 years in its natural range.

🎄 Norway spruce is the traditional source of , once used to prevent and cure , thanks to its high vitamin-C content. Tea is made from the shoot tips, which are also eaten straight from the tree when they are light green and new in spring.

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🎄 The tree's trunk is 26 inches around at the base and 19 inches in diameter at breast height, though diameters of almost four feet have been recorded in specimens.

🎄 It drinks about 5-10 gallons of water daily.

🎄 The sawyers who felled the tree were Arden Cogar, Jr., and Ron Polgar.

🎄 After it completes its service at the capitol, the tree's wood will be re-used by the Shawnee at their ceremonial grounds in White Oak, Oklahoma. Wa’feem’tekwi means “bright tree” in the Shawnee tongue.

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🎄 Norway spruce is the traditional source of , once used to prevent and cure , thanks to its high vitamin-C content. Tea is made from the shoot tips, which are also eaten straight from the tree when they are light green and new in spring.

For more information on the 2023 tree and to follow its journey, visit .


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