News | December 2, 2022

Pisgah National Forest provides Capitol Christmas Tree

Roan Highlands in the Pisgah National Forest (©Jerry Greer)

A piece of the Pisgah National Forest will be helping spread holiday cheer across the country this year, after a tree from the Pisgah was chosen to be the official U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. The 78-foot Red Spruce — nicknamed ‘Ruby’ by the U.S. Forest Service — will be decorated with thousands of ornaments and sit outside of the Capitol through the holiday season.  

The selection highlights the significance of our Southern Appalachian National Forests, which are some of the most visited and most beloved public lands in the country. Trees like Ruby help make up one of the most unique ecosystems in the world and provide crucial habitats for wildlife. These incredible forests are also home to iconic destinations and boast countless opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, picnicking, fishing, and much more. 

This holiday season, the entire country is getting a chance to see how incredible the South’s National Forests are. It is extremely important that we continue to fight for and protect these exceptional places so they can be enjoyed by future generations.

Sam Evans, Senior Attorney and Leader of SELC’s National Forests and Parks Program

The tradition of the Capitol Christmas Tree started in 1964, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture began providing trees from National Forests six years later. Southern Appalachian National Forests received the honor for the first time in 1972, when a Balsam Fir from Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest was chosen to be the Capitol Christmas Tree. Southern Appalachian Forests have been featured three other times with Fraser Firs from the Pisgah National Forest in 1974 and 1998, and a Red Spruce from Virginia’s George Washington and Jefferson National Forest in 2004.  

Ruby was harvested from the Pisgah in early November and received a tribal blessing from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The Red Spruce arrived in Washington D.C. a few weeks later and will remain on the West Lawn of the Capitol until early 2023.