Balsam Fir
Abies balsamea
Family Pinaceae

* Needles 3/8"-1 1/4" long, with two white grooves beneathand a broad circular base. Twigs smooth after needles removed.
* Cone 1-3", upright and fleshy purplish to green. Falling apart upon ripening, leaving erect slender central cores.
* Height: 40-60'; diameter: 1-2'.

Natural History:
* Habitat: Bottomland, moist woods. Abundant at elevations above 3000' in New England.
* Range: Canada to New England, mid-west United States.
* Native.

* Balsam firs make wonderful Christmas trees; they hold their needles and fill the house with their pleasant, spicy, distinctive aroma. However, people who spend considerable time around balsam fir find that they no longer smell it.

* "Stay green and balsam."
-Saying embroidered on certain kitschy potpourri pillows filled with fir needles.

* Fir branches are used to make fire-by-friction because they are very resinous and burn easily. Unfortunately, these qualities make them especially susceptible to forest fires. In extreme heat, the resin blisters under the bark and bursts into flame.

* The resin, after being heated, is used to make a sort of turpentine-like substance.

* Ruffed, spruce, and sharptail grouse eat the buds and needles; twigs are eaten by snowshoe hare, whitetail deer, and moose; porcupines love the bark.


Created by: Allaire Diamond and Jiasuey Hsu
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: July 31, 1998
Last Modified: November 21, 2008