Balsam Fir Trees (Abies balsamea)

Balsam fir (Abies balsamea) cones stand straight up, sitting on top of the branch. This positioning is a signature of the fir family and makes this species something of a rogue. You see, other conifer cones hang downward. The purple-green cones grow up to four inches long, with seeds maturing in the second year. 

Balsam fir trees are tall and narrow, standing up to 25 metres high. Their thick trunks grow to a girth of 70 centimetres. Growing at a rate of 30 centimetres annually, they keep growing to the age of 15 to 30 years. You can find these trees in southeastern Canada, including Ontario, as well as the northeastern United States. They enjoy the cool temperatures and abundant moisture in their habitats.

What Are Balsam Fir Trees Used For?

Balsam fir trees are one of many evergreen species used for Christmas trees. Their aromatic needles add a fresh scent to your home during the holidays. Other mammals find a good use for the trees as well. Snowshoe hares hide beneath its boughs, and mice and voles snack on the seeds. Red squirrels sometimes feed on the bark, wood, and seeds of this species.

Do Balsam Needles Have Racing Stripes?

This would make a great trivia question. Just so you get it right, it’s true. The needles grow individually instead of grouped together as in other evergreen trees. The bottom of the needles has two white stripes that, to some people, may look like racing stripes.

What Is a Fir Wave?

Sometimes, balsam firs grow in fir waves on mountain tops. A fir wave describes a set of alternating bands of trees at different developments of growth. 

Would you like to learn more about balsam fir trees and other evergreens? Take a look at our comprehensive pillar page on “Your Evergreen Guide to Evergreens”.

Common Problems with Balsam Fir

Balsam fir trees are sturdy and enduring. However, there are a couple of signs you must watch out for when including these trees in a landscaping plan:

  • Yellowing needles. This indicates a problem with the growth of your balsam fir. It could indicate root rot caused by too much water. Pruning back affected stems and branches and adjusting the watering schedule can prevent the soil from drying out or becoming swamped. If necessary, amend the soil with sand to improve drainage.
  • Mushrooms growing on trees. If you notice mushrooms growing on the trunk of your balsam fir tree, it may indicate a weakened structure. Known as heart rot, this fungus attacks the interior of the wood. The fungus enters through a wound or crack and spreads inside the tree. Homeowners can call an arborist to remove an infected branch or replace an infected tree too damaged to save.  

At Dutchmaster Nurseries, we include balsam fir trees in our evergreen product catalogue. Learn more interesting information about this unique evergreen by scanning through the balsam fir selections.Dutchmaster Nurseries has a sterling reputation for providing high-quality evergreens to businesses for over 50 years. Contact us for your wholesale landscaping needs in Ontario. Source top-quality balsam firs for your clients today!


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