We live on a homestead sim so prims are always an issue. In addition to the limited number of prims on a homestead there are Ode butterfly hunts on Shengri La every month, which require that we keep a large number of prims free. For these reasons finding low prim and wonderful trees is a long standing goal of mine. I say goal to be generous. Obsession might be a better word.
I have used trees by the talented Honour McMillan which she sells from her store Aintree Gardens. As you can see below, Honour's trees are very realistic and at 3 prims they really fit my needs. These trees come in several colors, they sway in the wind gently and at $400 for a copy version are more than affordable. On top of that Honour is a joy to work with so you cannot go wrong if you are in the market for trees.
These trees are made by texturing prims and placing them in a cross pattern as you can see below. This is one standard way lots of things in Sl are created. The problem with this construction method is from certain angles the object loses its 3 dimensional feel and begins to look like a flat picture on a prim. Its just a limitation of the tools.
To get around this problem, people use sculpted prims to create a more three dimensional representation. Some of the most lovely sculpted trees are made by Kriss Lehmann of Botanical in the gorgeous Straylight sim. I am sure you have seen these trees as they are used a lot, including in the little glen Zha and I built at our home.
The problem with sculpted trees is that they can be fairly primy. The trees we have are 30 prims each so to create our little forested glen with just 6 trees we have used 180 prims. Expand that to thinking about landscaping a whole sim and it becomes pretty obvious that prims are going to be a problem. Lately, I have seen a whole new breed of low prim sculpted trees that change the equation.
Recently the store called New Trail had a grand opening so I went over to check it out. I was lucky enough to grab a free copy of the tree called Arborea. This sculpted beauty is just 7 prims and comes with animated and static shadows. The mod copy version is $2,500 and is available in different shades of green and a fall feeling red orange. New Trail itself is a lovely sim and is worth a visit.
Today I ran across a store called Artis Natur in a sim called Revelations. This tree is called Sitting Giant. It is priced at $1,000 for mod copy version. This tree is just 5 prims, comes with the option to change the foliage depending on the season, has particle falling leaves, a sculpted shadow and sitting pose. Wow. Just wow.
Some people do not like sculpted trees because they can take a long time to rez. Unrezed sculpties look like big blobs that can be unattractive. Clearly, the choice between high quality conventional prim trees and sculpted trees is a matter of personal taste. One thing is certain though. Content creators are upping the bar on quality and keeping the prim counts low so I think the future of the Linden tree looks bleak.