1) Fire up blender (duh!)
2) Delete everything in the scene.
3) Create a circle with 3 vertices. Go to the front view (1)
4) Extrude the three vertices until the object is long enough for a needle. Select the top 3 vertices, extrude 1 grid up, and scale them down till the 3 points meet eachother. Do the same with the other 3 vertices.
5) Press remove doubles. 4 vertices will be removed. ou should have something loke this.

6) Go to editmode again, and move all the vertices 2 gridunits up.
7) Go to the side view (3) and go to editmode. There look at the middle group of buttons. Change the value of 'Degr' to 360, and the value of 'steps' to 8. Then push the 'Spin Dup' button. Select all vertices and remove doubles.
8) You should have something like this.

9) Go to the top view and select all vertices. Now duplicate them and move the about 4 or 5 grid units to the left, and rotate it a little along the x-Axis. Do this about 5 times.

Now we will create our stem.

10) Go to another layer, and create a plane.
11) Go in front view and go in editmode.
12) Extrude the plane, and move the verices up 10 grids. Do this another 3 times, each time scaling the vertices a bit.
13) Select the first 4 vertices and move them up one grid. Then extrude them down 1 grid.
14) Press the subsurf button.

This is the stem. Now we will create a branch.

15) Go to a new layer. Go to the side view (3), and add a plane. Now extrude and scale till you have something like this.

Now we will 'dress' our branch.

16) Shift select the layer where you made the needles.
17) Scale the needles till they aren't to big anymore.
18) Now start moving and duplicating the group of needles till the whole branch is covered.

19) Now select all needles, and join them (ctrl-j). You should now have one object which contains all these needles.
20) Now move the needles and the branch up a bit. Rotate them a bit too to simulate gravity.
21) Now shift-select the layer in which you created the stem, and scale it till it looks long enough.

22) Now go in edit mode, and spin the branch and needles around the stem 8 times. (or more if your branch is smaller)

These are already quite a lot vertices. So if your computer has troubles with it, go into bounding box mode by pressing d , boundbox.

23) The only thing you have to do now is duplicating the objects along the stem, each time scaling it a bit.

24) You can add irregularity by rotating the groups of branches and needles.

25) Thats it. All you have to do now is add some nice materials.

A result of this technique, rendered with materials can be found here