Balsam Fir

Balsam Fir Abies balsameaThe balsam fir (Abies balsamea) is a medium-sized tree, 50 to 60 feet in height. It is native to northeast Iowa where it grows on moist slopes.

HabitatGrows on steep north facing slopes. Found in northeast Iowa.

balsam fir tree
Balsam Fir Tree

Hardiness: Zones 3 through 6

Growth Rate: Slow

Mature Shape: Densely pyramidal

Height: 40-70 feet

Width: 15-20 feet

Site Requirements: Plant trees in sun to light shade with moist, well-drained soils. Protect trees from drying winds. Balsam firs do not tolerate heat well.

Leaves: Blunt needles

Flowering Dates: May

Seed Dispersal Dates: October

Seed Bearing Age: 15 Years

Seed Bearing Frequency: Every 3-5 years

Seed Stratification: One month at 34°F to 40°F

Balsam fir leaves - needles
Balsam Fir Leaves - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University

The leaves are blunt needles 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches long, dark green on the upper surface to silvery white on the lower surface and spreading at nearly right angles to the branch. The fruit is an oblong, cylindrical cone 2 to 4 inches long, purplish in color and growing upright on the upper branches.  When ripe, the cone breaks up into pieces, so one never finds a mature cone on the ground. The brown bark breaks into small plates covered with scales. The young bark is often covered with pitch blister, hence the name "balsam."

Diseases that Can Affect Balsam Fir

Insects that Can Affect Balsam Fir


Balsam fir cones
Balsam Fir Cones - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University

balsam fir branch with winter buds
Balsam Fir Branch with Winter Buds - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University

balsam fir bark
Balsam Fir Bark - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University