Balsam fir (Abies balsamea)

 balsam-fir leaves

Click on the images help you identify an Balsam fir.



Medium size; height 40' to 60' with continuous straight tapering trunk from root to top; diameter 9" to 20" or more; spreading branches form a handsome, symmetrical, slender pyramid.


Smooth, grayish, prominently marked by blisters filled with resin or balsam pitch.


Needlelike, but flat; length 1/2" to 1" with rounded point; dark green and lustrous above and silvery-white beneath; arranged on twig apparently in two ranks; resinous and fragrant.

Fruit (seed)

Cones upright on branches, purple, oblong; length 2" to 4"; become ripe in the autumn of the first year; cone scale wider than long; seeds have very wide wings and, when ripe, fall together with the scales of the cone, leaving the hard central axis standing upright on twig like a spike.


Found in the forests of northern Minnesota and in a few scattered localities in the southeastern corner of the state; usually associated with white spruce, from which it can easily be distinguished by its large upright cones and soft leaves; thrives in cool, damp, places; very shade tolerant.

Wood uses

Light, soft, not strong or durable, coarse-grained; used only slightly for construction lumber; is mixed with spruce wood for paper pulp; especially important as Christmas trees.

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