Last updated on December 3rd, 2019 at 02:38 pm
Ocala National Forest is one of the few places in Florida where you hike into the woods and cut down a Christmas tree.
But you need a permit.
A $7 permit is needed for each sand-pine tree you plan to harvest. Rangers will direct permit-holders to one of the designated areas at the time you receive your permit.
Permits must be purchased before Dec. 23 and tree harvesting ends Dec 24.
Request a permit by mail or obtain one in person at the Lake George Ranger District Office, 17147 E. State Road 40, Silver Springs, FL 34488, or the Seminole Ranger District Office, 40929 State Road 19, Umatilla, FL, 32784.
In person, you must visit between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. You can pay by cash, check or credit card.
You also can order your permit by snail mail with a $7 check made out to the USDA Forest Service. If you do that, you need to include all the information that goes on the from: Name, address, phone number, drivers license number and expiration date plus vehicle info: the year, make, model, state and license plate number.
When you receive your permit, you get a map to the sites where you can cut your tree.
Unlike tree farms, these trees have not been treated for bugs, so small beetles may crawl out once the tree is in your home. Sand pine trees are the only native Florida Christmas tree. They’re not commercially sold because the branches are too weak for heavy ornaments.
Call (352) 625-2520 for more information.
Here’s more about the Florida sand pine.
Florida also has Christmas tree farms
In Central and Northern Florida, you can also buy Christmas trees from farms where they are grown. The farms grow a variety of types of pines — red cedar, Virginia pine, sand pine, spruce pine and Leyland cypress.
This page provides a locator map for Florida Christmas tree growers who are members of the Florida Christmas Tree Association. Many offer potted trees, pre-cut trees and choose-and-cut trees. Some also offer wreaths, arts and crafts, gifts, and family activities such as hay rides.