Ontario's Tree Atlas: Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)

Needles; Photo: Daniel Tigner,
Canadian Forest Trees Essences
Bark; Photo: Daniel Tigner,
Canadian Forest Trees Essences
Cone; Photo: Daniel Tigner,
Canadian Forest Trees Essences
Tree; Photo: Daniel Tigner,
Canadian Forest Trees Essences
Did you know?
Balsam firs are often used as Christmas trees because they have a wonderful scent, and the needles stay on the tree for a long time after it’s been cut down.

The balsam fir is one of the most recognizable trees in Ontario.  It’s tall and narrow and tapers to a skinny point at the top.

 

It looks a bit like a church steeple.  When the tree is young, its bark is covered in sap blisters. The sticky sap is always on the tree, so be careful not to brush up against it.

 

The balsam fir grows in a variety of climates and temperatures and is found across Ontario.  Its cones are barrel shaped and greyish brown and are 4 to 10 centimetres long.  Its needles are 2 to 4 centimetres long and dark and shiny green, with two white bands underneath.

 

When the balsam fir grows in a group of other trees, the branches at the bottom of the tree die and dry out.  When in the open, the tree gets more sunlight and the lower branches stay green all the way to the ground.

 

Size:  Up to 30 metres tall, trunk 60 centimetres in diameter
Moisture:  Tolerates different moisture levels
Shade:  Tolerates shade
Soil: Grows in a variety of soils

 

Planting Tip:  The roots of the balsam fir don’t go very deep in to the soil – they have been known to blow down during extremely high winds, so be sure to plant your balsam fir in a sheltered area, or away from your house. More tips...

 

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