The four Matson Navigation ships carrying fresh cut Christmas trees are arriving. The first arrived on November 15, and the final ship will arrive on December 6. While the total number of trees shipped is unknown, Matson says that they transport more than 100,000 Oregon and Washington grown trees each year.
The trees typically go on sale in Hawaii the day after Thanksgiving, following inspection by the state’s Department of Agriculture.
Christmas trees in Hawaii are problematic:
- In order to get here, nearly 3,000 miles from where they are grown, they spend about two weeks in temperature controlled ocean transit.
- The warmer weather here in Hawaii means trouble. Pines typically start losing their needles soon after arriving, and well before Christmas. I for one don’t like a living-room full of dropped pine needles.
- Last year, several container-loads of Christmas trees arrived with unwanted guests. A variety of yellow jackets unknown in Hawaii, was found in the trees. Some of the trees were sent back to the mainland while the remaining ones had to be individually inspected and recertified prior to sale.
The only Christmas trees actually grown in Hawaii are Cook Island Pines and Leyland Cypress, which while beautiful, are definitely not traditional fir trees.
After years of trying, we’ve now opted for a permanent General Electric tree, repleat with 1,500 lights. It just works better here in Hawaii. We supplement that with real tree branches which we usually pick up for free at Home Depot. Those provide the smell of fresh trees, and it is much more manageable than a large tree dropping needles all over the model train track.
When we see the trees later this week, we’ll update this with average costs and some photos.