Balsam fir

Silhouette - balsam fir
  • Latin name: Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.
  • French name: Sapin baumier
  • Synonym(s): Canada balsam
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 18032
Description

Leaves

  • Needle and needle cross section - balsam fir
  • Twig and needles - balsam fir

Form

  • Tip rounded or notched
  • Needles arranged in 2 ranks, shorter on the upper side of the twig
  • Resin ducts small, remote from the surface
  • Strong odour when crushed

Length

  • 15–25 mm

Colour

  • Upper surface shiny dark green, often a few white dots toward the tip
  • Lower surface with 10–12 lines of white dots

Buds

Form

  • Broadly ovoid
  • Resinous

Length

  • 5 mm

Twigs

  • Twig terminal - balsam fir
  • - - balsam fir

Form

  • Smooth, hairy

Colour

  • Greenish-grey

Seed cones (mature)

  • . Cone scale; outer surface with bract (left), inner surface with winged seed (right), winged seed inner surface (below) - balsam fir

Form

  • Erect, barrel-shaped
  • Resinous

Length

  • 4–10 cm

Colour

  • Greyish-brown

Structure

  • Bracts with rounded shoulders and a needle-shaped tip, sometimes longer than the scales

Timing

  • Cones break up from early September
  • Bare cone axis retained on tree for several years
  • Seeds abundant

Seeds

Form

  • Resinous
  • Firmly attached to seed coat

Length

  • Seed 3–6 mm
  • Seed wing 10–15 mm

Colour

  • Purple to brown

Bark

Form

  • Smooth with raised resin blisters when young
  • With age, breaking into irregular scales

Colour

  • Greyish when young, becoming brownish with age

Wood

Texture

  • Light, soft, weak, somewhat brittle
  • Odourless

Colour

  • White

Morphology

  • Little contrast between earlywood and latewood
  • Little contrast between heartwood and sapwood

Uses

  • Wood pulp, lumber, Christmas trees

Size

Height

  • To 25 m

Diameter

  • To 70 cm

Maximum age

  • 150 years

Tree form

  • Silhouette - balsam fir

Open-grown

Crown

  • Lower branches remain alive
  • Green foliage extends to the ground

Forest-grown

Trunk

  • Slightly tapered below the crown
  • Dead branches persist for several years

Crown

  • Crown regular
  • Gradually tapers to a spire-like top

Root system

  • Shallow

Habitat

Site

  • Variety of soils and climates

Associated species

  • Grows in pure stands or mixed with trembling aspen, white birch, white spruce, black spruce, red spruce, and eastern hemlock

Range

Northern forests of central and eastern Canada

Insects and diseases

Insects and diseases that are found most frequently and/or that cause the most damage in our Canadian forests.

Photos
  • Balsam fir
  • Balsam fir
  • Balsam fir
  • Balsam fir
  • Balsam fir
  • Balsam fir
Distribution map
Distribution map - balsam fir
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