This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The German custom of the Christmas tree, has grown so popular, that in Philadelphia, it has infected all classes, and promises to be a permanent institution. There are over 100,000 houses in Philadelphia, and it is believed that there were very few of them this year without its Christmas tree. The fact excited unusual attention this year, and brought out numerous articles in the city papers about the "awful destruction of our forests, by the senseless practice, and the necessity of some legislative restrictions in reference thereto," that we were led to look into the matter more closely than usual.
The first lot of trees came in from the hills of Northern Pennsylvania, about the 12th of December, and were almost wholly of the Black Spruce. Between this and the 24th, large quantities came in from Maine, and the Eastern States. These were chiefly of Black Spruce, a few White Spruce and Balsam Fir. From New Jersey were a few scattering lots of Red Cedar, Scrub Pine, and now and then a few Pitch Pine. From old nurseries within fifty or a hundred miles of Philadelphia were "surplus" Norway Spruces, and rather more of this class than we have ever known before. It will be seen from this, that there is little relation between the Christmas tree business and the Forestry question, as the great bulk of the 100,000 trees used are such as are nearly worthless or not in use for timber purposes, and the little children when they grow up to the adult stage, however much they may feel that their childish pleasure contributed to make the "arid waste" to which our country is to come to during the next half century, did little at least to lessen the timber supply.
In regard to the prices which the trees brought, they seemed to run all the way from say fifty cents to a dollar and a half each. Extra large or ultra poor of course going above or below as the case might be. The wholesale prices varied from about $20 to $100 per hundred. The last were very large, say ten to twelve feet high, and were mostly Balm of Gilead; about $25 to $35 per hundred for an average room tree, were the prevailing prices. This for trees delivered free in Philadelphia.