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ABIES balsamea var. phanerolepis

Image of Abies balsamea var. phanerolepis

Mary S. Thomas

Family

Pinaceae

Botanical Name

ABIES balsamea var. phanerolepis

Plant Common Name

Bracted Balsam Fir, Canaan Fir

General Description

Balsams are such beautiful evergreen trees for the north, especially this super hardy variety. Canaan fir is naturally distributed in the northeastern United States and Canada. It is distinguished by its hardiness, tight pyramidal form with short ascending branches, and distinctive cones, which have long papery bracts extending from the scales.

This tall coniferous evergreen tree develops a fine pyramidal form, but is slow growing. Its fragrant flattened needles are lustrous and dark green above and have white stomatal bands underneath. The elongated cones are dark violet when young, turn gray-brown at maturity and stand erect along the branches. The cones are distinct because they have long papery bracts that extend from the woody scales of the dry cones.

Canaan fir is sun-loving and more tolerant of wet soils and late spring frosts than other balsams. Like all, it offers that sweet balsam smell that is a favored winter and holiday fragrance. This tree offers year round interest, provides habitat to wildlife and can be grown for the Christmas tree trade. Use it in the landscape as a specimen tree, in a privacy screen or for reforestation.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    6 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 6

  • Sunset Zone

    A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 15, 16, 17

  • Plant Type

    Needled or Scaled Evergreen

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    45'-60' / 13.7m - 18.3m

  • Width

    25'-25' / 7.6m - 7.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    Northeastern United States, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Pyramidal

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Fruit Color

    Purple, Brown, Sandy Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Light Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Olive, Brown, Gray, Slate Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Screening / Wind Break

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No