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Abies balsamea

Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Pinus balsamea
Phonetic Spelling
AY-bees bal-sam-AY-ah
Description

Does not tolerate heat. Grows best in full sun with moist, well-drained acidic soil, does not tolerate heavy clay soils. It has the widest range of any Abies in North America, from Labrador to Alberta (the only fir native to eastern Canada) and south to Pennsylvania. It is not well-suited to hot humid summers south of zone 5 as it comes from cooler climates.

Its needles are aromatic when crushed and its bark and cones produce a lot of sap or balsam, hence the common and Latin name. Its form is symmetrical, narrow, pyramidal to conical with a spire-like crown. One feature of firs is that their cones appear upright on branches. It is popular as a Christmas tree because of its handsome shape and long retention of needles. Its evergreen needles provide structure to the landscape and interest in the winter months.

Native to Alberta, Connecticut, Iowa, Labrador, Maine, Manitoba, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Brunswick, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Prince Edward I., Québec, Saskatchewan, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin

Insects Diseases and Other Plant Problems: Fairly problem-free. Balsam woolly adelgids, bark beetles, spruce budworms, aphids, bagworms, and scale. Spider mites may occur in hot conditions. Disease problems include cankers, heart rot, root rot, needle rust, and twig blight. Trees are intolerant of urban pollution.

Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Nana'
    Dwarf
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#full sun#needles#temperate#fragrant leaves#winter interest#playground#christmas tree#children's garden
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Nana'
    Dwarf
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#full sun#needles#temperate#fragrant leaves#winter interest#playground#christmas tree#children's garden
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Abies
    Species:
    balsamea
    Family:
    Pinaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    North America
    Distribution:
    Alberta Canada, MN, WI, New England, PA, VA
    Play Value:
    Fragrance
    Pieces Used in Games
    Dimensions:
    Height: 50 ft. 0 in. - 80 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 15 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Columnar
    Conical
    Erect
    Pyramidal
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    more than 60 feet
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Description:
    Does not produce fruits. Cylidrical seed cones erect, small, 2.5-4 inches long, appear at the crown of tree. Resinous, release seed in early fall and scales fall away leaving the bare center of the cone which may remain on the tree for several years.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Description:
    Non-flowering, cone producing
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    White
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Other/more complex
    Whorled
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Needles are dense, directed forward and upward, 1 inch long, apex rounded or lightly notched, deep green above, 2 white bands below (each with 5-6 lines). Has a strong balsam fragrance when crushed.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Green
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    Greenish when young but brown gray and scaly as it ages, covered with blisters that ooze sap or balsam producing
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Sap or balsam producing
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Recreational Play Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree