Distinctive Perennials

Ornamental Grasses


Wreaths & Gifts




type of tree

Canaan Fir

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Species Name

Canaan Fir (Abies Intermedia)

Seed Source

Canaan Valley, Tucker County, West Virginia


Excellent growth rate, bluish colour, dense crown form, high needle density. More tolerant of low moisture and high temperatures than Fraser Fir


Similar to Fraser Fir, but higher survivability than Fraser on wet sites. Good growth on virtually any site. Has performed surprisingly well on heavy clay soils


Tends to be quicker-growing than Fraser, otherwise similar but generally with a higher number of lateral limbs. Often required less shearing than most species. Breaks bud very late, fast growing.






Will grow well on virtually any aspect, but slight preference for north- or east-facing slopes.


Canaan (pronounced "Ka-naan", with emphasis on the last syllable) is a relative newcomer to the Christmas tree market. It has many similarities to both Fraser and balsam firs in growth and appearance. Unfortunately, this similarity which has led to a great deal of confusion.

In 1909, a variety of balsam fir was described in the literature as having cone scales extending from the bracts. This morphology was a deviation from typical balsam fir cones where the scales are not extended. This variety was then named "phanerolepis" which actually means conspicuous scales. The scientific name of Abies balsamea var. phanerolepis was assigned. The common names most often used were "bracted balsam fir" and "Blue Ridge fir". Canaan fir had not, at that time, been described separately.

In the mid 1930's, suggestions were made by several authors that some specimens of the variety phanerolepis had a sufficient number of traits of both balsam and Fraser fir that it should not be recognized as a variety but as a separate species. These specimens were generally found in West Virginia and Virginia. One author suggested the name be changed to Abies intermedia to reflect this intermediate nature of the plants' characteristics. The classification as a separate species has since fallen out of favor, but some commercial nurseries still market the trees as Abies intermedia. Canaan fir is so-named because several of the original trees with the intermediate morphology were identified from a limited area in West Virginia, generally referred to as the Canaan Valley.

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