Tree Tuesday: Balsam Fir

The Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea) has been known as the Christmas tree for more than 250 years. It is one of the few types of Christmas trees native to the northeast with its range being most of eastern and central Canada and the northeastern United States with southern range in the Appalachian Mountains to West Virginia.

Superior National Forest [CC BY 2.0]

Balsam fir is a small to medium sized coniferous tree. Its growth occurs in whorls of branches surrounding an upright leader or terminal, making a symmetrical tree with a broad base and narrow top; the classic Christmas tree shape.

Each branch has a double row of needles which are openly spaced and range between 0.75 and 1.5 inches in length, making them perfect for supporting tree ornaments.

Cephas [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Cones are 2 to 4 inches long, purplish in color, and stand erect on branches (as do those of all true firs).

Its bark is covered with resinous blisters which gives the species its name. The resin is known as Canadian Balsam. This is what gives the Balsam Fir its lingering fragrance.

Keith Kanoti, Maine Forest Service, United States [CC BY 3.0 us]

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