Balsam Fir, Common Tree in North America

Abies balsamea, a Top 100 Common Tree in North America

Balsam fir is the most cold-hardy and aromatic of all firs. It seems to gladly suffer the Canadian cold but is also comfortable when planted in mid-latitude eastern North America. Also known as A. balsamea, it normally grows to a height of 60 feet and can live at sea level to 6,000 feet. The tree is one of America's most popular Christmas trees.

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The Images of Balsam Fir

Balsam fir (Abies balsamea) seedling
(Don Johnston/All Canada Photos/Getty Images) provides several images of parts of balsam fir. The tree is a conifer and the lineal taxonomy is Pinopsida > Pinales > Pinaceae > Abies balsamea (L.) P. Mill. Balsam fir is also commonly called blister or balm-of-Gilead fir, eastern fir or Canada balsam and sapin baumler.

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The Silviculture of Balsam Fir

balsam fir cones
(Bill Cook/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0 us)

Stands of balsam fir are often found in association with black spruce, white spruce and aspen. This tree is a major food for moose, American red squirrels, crossbills and chickadees, as well as shelter for moose, snowshoe hares, white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse and other small mammals and songbirds. Many botanists consider Fraser fir (Abies fraseri), which occurs further south in the Appalachian mountains, closely related to Abies balsamea (balsam fir) and has occasionally been treated as a subspecies.

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The Range of Balsam Fir

Balsam Fir distribution map
Balsam Fir Range. (USFS/Little)

In the United States, the range of balsam fir extends from extreme northern Minnesota west of Lake-of-the-Woods southeast to Iowa; east to central Wisconsin and central Michigan into New York and central Pennsylvania; then northeastward from Connecticut to the other New England States. The species is also present locally in the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia.

In Canada, balsam fir extends from Newfoundland and Labrador west through the more northerly portions of Quebec and Ontario, in scattered stands through north-central Manitoba and Saskatchewan to the Peace River Valley in northwestern Alberta, then south for approximately 640 km (400 mi) to central Alberta, and east and south to southern Manitoba.

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Your Citation
Nix, Steve. "Balsam Fir, Common Tree in North America." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Nix, Steve. (2023, April 5). Balsam Fir, Common Tree in North America. Retrieved from Nix, Steve. "Balsam Fir, Common Tree in North America." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).