Balsam Fir (Balsamea) is generally described as
a perennial tree.
native to the U.S. (United States)
has its most active growth period in the
spring and summer .
The greatest bloom is usually observed in the
with fruit and seed production starting in the
fall and continuing until
retained year to year.
Balsam Fir (Balsamea) has a
short life span relative to most other plant species and a
slow growth rate.
At maturity, the typical
Balsam Fir (Balsamea) will reach up to
60 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of
Balsam Fir (Balsamea) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by
bare root, container, seed.
It has a
slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have
Note that cold stratification is
not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below
low tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.
Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.
Balsam fir is used primarily for Christmas trees and pulpwood, although some lumber is produced from it in New England and the Lake States. The wood is light in weight, low in bending and compressive strength, moderately limber, soft, and low in resistance to shock.
Balsam fir is a small to medium sized coniferous tree. Growth occurs in whorls of branches surrounding an upright leader or terminal, making a symmetrical tree with a broad base and narrow top. It is relatively short-lived and is considered a sub-climax type species in the New England states, but may be a climax type in the zone below timberline.
Needles are 3/4 to 1 inch long, flat, and often strongly curved. Twigs with needles have a generally flattened appearance. Both male and female flowers are found on the same branch. Cones are 2 to 4 inches long, purplish in color, and stand erect on branches (as do those of all true firs). There are about 60,000 seeds in a pound. The bark is smooth, thin, and grayish, distinguished by soft blisters containing a clear, odiferous resin known as Canadian balsam.
Required Growing Conditions
The soils on which balsam fir grows range from silt loams developed from lake deposits to stony loams derived from glacial till. Fir will grow, but comparatively slowly, on gravelly sands and in peat bogs. It grows on soils of pH ranging from 4.0 to 6.0. It is generally found in areas with a cold moist climate and with 30 inches or more of annual precipitation. Fir is subject to windthrow, especially on shallow wet soils. Because of its thin bark, shallow root system, and flammable needles, balsam fir is easily killed by fire.
Balsam fir is distributed throughout the Northeast and upper Midwest.
Cultivation and Care
The use of natural regeneration methods for balsam fir is very effective on open and disturbed sites (heavily cut areas), but an adequate seed source must exist. This species can also be readily grown in nurseries, for transplanting to abandoned fields, Christmas tree plantations, and open areas. Use conventional tree planting techniques and equipment. Three or four year old seedling stock should be utilized.
General Upkeep and Control
This section is under development. Please consult the Related Web Sites links on the PLANTS Plant Profile.
Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) Although most available seedlings of balsam fir are of unknown parentage, some are produced from local selections.
Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database, plants.usda.gov.
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA