Distinctive Perennials

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Balsam Fir Seedlings

Balsam Fir

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Species Name

Balsam Fir (Abies Balsamea)

Seed Source

Northern New Brunswick, Vermont and Eastern Ontario


All are extremely hardy and have good natural pyramidal crown shape and density. Eastern Ontario source has the fastest growth but maybe less disease-resistant when grown locally. New Brunswick seed source is the fastest-growing. However, the Vermont seed source generally produces the highest quality tree, when considering density, crown form, colour, needle retention and disease resistance.


Tolerant of relatively wet sites and does well on all but the very driest of soils


Can be slower-growing, dependent on seed source. Needles dark, shiny green above and silvery white below. 0.75 to 1.5 inches long, often notched at the tip. Beautiful fragrance.






Cool, north- or east-facing slopes.


Maximum age is about 200 years. How large or how fast balsam fir grows, or how much seed a stand of balsam fir will yield is related to site factors such as biotic, climatic, and soil conditions, and to age. The condition of the tree or stand and the composition and structure of the stand also influence growth. Root penetration on deep or shallow soils extends to 60 to 75 cm (24 to 30 in) and has been reported to a depth of 137 cm (54 in) in sandy soils in northern Ontario. Lateral roots of balsam fir are usually strongly developed and extend horizontally in all directions to 1.5 m (5 ft) or more.

Root breakage and other root damage caused by swaying trees may not be as severe as is commonly thought. Balsam fir has a strong ability to become established and grow under the shade of larger trees. It is classified as very tolerant. Because relative tolerance of species may vary with soil fertility, climate, and age, balsam fir is rated as both more and less shade tolerant than red spruce, and more tolerant than either black or white spruce.

The most important products made from balsam fir wood are pulpwood and lumber. The wood of balsam fir is light in weight, relatively soft, low in shock resistance, and has good splitting resistance. The Balsam Fir has been a favorite Christmas tree for more than 400 years. It remains among the top three species. In North America, Balsam fir ranked second behind Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), commanding 13.9 percent of the market.

The market for Balsam as Christmas trees is expected to grow significantly. Sheared plantation-grown trees are usually preferred over wildings by retailers and consumers. Wreath-making is another holiday business that rivals that of Christmas tree sales in some areas. Prolonged needle retention after harvest, color, and pleasant fragrance are characteristics of balsam fir that make it attractive for these uses. Fragrance alone accounts for use of the needles as stuffing for souvenir pillows commonly sold in New England gift shops

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