The Balsam Fir is an evergreen tree that thrives in the cold of the northeastern United States and Canada.
Hardy Planting Zone: 3-9
Mature Height: Between 45-75 feet with a spread of 20-25 feet.
Soil Requirements: Abundant moisture, cold, acidic soil. Can tolerate a little salt. Grow best in sandy loam soils that are well-drained.
Growing speed: It's a slow-growing tree that produces less than twelve inches per year. It can reach 150 to 200 years of age.
Characteristics: conical, symmetrical shape, pleasant odor, sturdy branches. The tree is conical in shape with smooth bark. The narrow crown of the tree is symmetrical, dense, and spire-shaped.
Being evergreen, it keeps it's needles all year round, and they constantly maintain their bright green color. The needles are generally flat and either rounded or blunt at the tips. They grow to about one inch in length on average.
The balsam fir produces two to four-inch cones that stand up instead of hanging down from the tree (a characteristic of all firs). The cones are purplish when they first grow then turn a brown or grayish color as they mature. These cones grow in the upper parts of the tree and rather than fall off whole, the cone drops its "seeds" and leaves a thick stalk behind. The balsam fir produces cones every two to four years.
An interesting fact about the balsam fir is that for centuries it has been widely used as a Christmas tree.
It has many desirable properties such as strong branches that can hold ornaments, a pleasant fragrance when the needles are crushed, and a beautiful, vibrant color.
The resin of the balsam fir is often used in many applications — the tree blisters when it's young, revealing the resin. It's used for microscopic slides, as a varnish for watercolor artwork, and has even been used in the past as a treatment for lung problems. The balsam fir will continue to be one of the most popular trees around.