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ABIES balsamea

Image of Abies balsamea

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Pinaceae

Botanical Name

ABIES balsamea

Plant Common Name

Balsam Fir

General Description

Balsam fir is a tall coniferous evergreen tree native to the northeastern fifth of the United States and extreme southern Canada. It has a fine pyramidal form, is slow growing and becomes a very tall tree when mature. Its small deep green needles are soft, glossy and smell of sweet balsam. The female cones are full of resin and are brown when mature, and shatter readily when dry. This tree offers year round interest and provides habitat to wildlife, including foliage eaten by deer.

Plants excel in full to part sun and do well in slightly acidic, well-drained soils that are moist. This evergreen does not fair well in regions that are hot-summered or affected by drying winds or seasonal droughts. Balsam fir is a favorite Christmas tree. Use it in the landscape as specimen trees, very tall privacy screens, dense windbreaks or for reforestation. Often times the typical garden landscape finds this tree not fairing as nicely as it would in natural environments as is has a very shallow root system and appreciates cool soil.

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'-75' / 13.7m - 22.9m (60)

  • Width

    10'-20' / 3.0m - 6.1m (15)

  • Native To

    Northeastern United States, North-Central United States, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant

  • 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