The balsam fir is a native evergreen well-adapted to the cold climates of the northern United States and Canada. Its symmetrical spire-like crown, shining dark green color, and spicy fragrance have made it a favorite Christmas tree for hundreds of years. The branches are also popular in holiday wreaths and other greenery.
In the landscape, this fir is used as a specimen as well as part of a screen or windbreak. They make a striking figure in the landscape with its narrowly-pyramidal shape, but it does best in cooler northern climates.
Abies balsamea is celebrated for its rich green needles, natural conical shape, and needle retention after being cut, and it is notably the most fragrant of all Christmas tree varieties.
Mature cones upright, dark purple maturing to purplish-brown; 2 to 4 inches tall. When ripe, the individual scales of the cone fall away leaving the center stalk. The seeds and buds are food for birds including grouse, squirrels, mice and voles. Moose and white-tailed deer use the this tree for food, cover and shelter. The bark is browsed by black bears. Beavers occasionally use the wood for dam building.
Botanical name: Abies balsamea
All Common Names: Balsam Fir, balm of Gilead, northern balsam, silver pine, and blister fir
Family (English): Pine
Family (Botanic): Pinaceae
Foliage: Evergreen (Retains most of its needles year-round)
Shape: Mounded, Pyramidal
Exposure: Full Sun
Foliage: Dark green
Fall Foliage: Same