The Twelve Trees of Christmas

Posted on by Emily Beech
At this time of year people all over the world bring Christmas trees into their homes to welcome in the festive spirit. But did you know that 34% of conifers are at risk of becoming extinct in their natural environment due to things such as habitat loss?

Over the next 12 days, the Global Trees Campaign, supported by the Forestry Commission’s Bedgebury National Pinetum, will showcase a conifer a day to highlight some of the collaborative global conservation efforts that are being made to protect some of the world’s most threatened conifers this Christmas. #12TreesXmas

The most common trees in our living rooms are the Norway Spruce (Picea abies), Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta) and the Nordmann Fir (Abies nordmanniana) which are not threatened with extinction, but many of their wild relatives are.

Worldwide, there are over 200 species of conifer that are threatened with extinction in the wild. Many of them (81%) can be found in botanic gardens and arboreta (collectively known as ex situ collections), giving them some added protection against immediate extinction in the wild. We will be highlighting the important conservation work of the Global Trees Campaign, and organisations such as Bedgebury National Pinetum and the Forestry Commission in protecting some of these increasingly rare and endangered trees from extinction.

Collecting Picea omorika Bosnia

Collecting Picea omorika in Bosnia. Credit: Tom Christian/RBGE

Conifers are the oldest living trees on earth, appearing in the fossil records as far back as 300 million years ago so we don’t want to lose them now. So, spare a thought for the threatened ‘Christmas trees’ this festive season.

Head over to Twitter and follow the #12TreesXmas hashtag so you don’t miss a story.

Find out:
  • which conifer’s seeds have their own winter festival?
  • which conifer’s leaves change shape when it reaches 100 years old?
  • which conifer is the White House’s favourite choice of Christmas tree?
Credit: Dan Luscombe/Bedgebury National Pinetum

The world/s oldest tree is a conifer – Pinus longaeva. Credit: Dan Luscombe/Bedgebury National Pinetum

Written by Emily Beech

Emily is a Tree Red List Manager at Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), working on the Global Tree Assessment, managing conservation assessment projects across the world, including in Madagascar, Central America and Oceania.


  1. Brenton on

    Thank you for this fascinating article.


Add new comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.