balsam fir (Abies balsamea)

Balsam Fir


Native to the northern third of Wisconsin, this icon evergreen of the north woods has soft flat needles arranged in a spiral around the branch. However, the needle blade turn horizontal to capture the sun. This makes them appear to be arranged along more or two rows along the shoot. Balsam fir trees are short to medium height (46–66 feet). They prefer soil with consistent moisture, but can be found from swamps to hilltops. Cones are are erect (1 12 to 3 14 inches)  and dark purple; ripen to brown and disintegrating to release the winged seeds in September.

balsam fir

USDA Symbol: Common Name: Scientific Name:
ABBA balsam fir Abies balsamea

ITIS TSN: 18032

Category: Gymnosperm


Kingdom: Plantae


Super Division: Spermatophyta

Division: Coniferophyta


Class: Pinopsida


Order: Pinales

Family: Pinaceae

Counties: Adams, Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Brown, Burnett, Calumet, Chippewa, Clark, Dane, Door, Douglas, Dunn, Florence, Forest, Grant, Iron, Jackson, Kenosha, Kewaunee, Langlade, Lincoln, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marinette, Marquette, Menominee, Milwaukee, Oconto, Oneida, Outagamie, Pepin, Portage, Price, Rusk, Sauk, Sawyer, Shawano, Sheboygan, St. Croix, Taylor, Trempealeau, Vernon, Vilas, Washburn, Washington, Waukesha, Waupaca, Waushara, Wood

Natural Community: Alder Thicket

Curtis Community: Northern Dry Forest, Northern Dry-mesic Forest, Alder Thicket, Boreal Forest, Bracken-grassland

Coefficient of Conservation: 5

Duration: Growth Habit: Native Status:
Perennial Tree L48(N)CAN(N)SPM(N)

Active Growth Period: Spring and Summer

After Harvest Regrowth Rate:

Bloat: None

Carbon to Nitrogen Ratio: High

Coppice Potential: No

Conspicuous Fall Color: No

Fire Resistant: No

Flower Color: Yellow

Conspicuous Flower: No

Foliage Color: Green

Foliage Light Porosity Summer: Dense

Foliage Porosity Winter: Dense

Foliage Texture: Medium

Fruit/Seed Color: Brown

Fruit/Seed Conspicuous: No

Growth Form: Single Stem

Growth Rate: Slow

Height at Base Age (Max): 18

Height at Maturity: 60

Known Alelopath: No

Leaf Retention: Yes

Lifespan: Short

Low Growing Grass: No

Re-sproutability: No

Shape and Orientation: Conical

Toxicity: None

Height (min):

Height (max):

Root Type:

Leaf Type:

Leaf Arrangement:

Leaf Shape:

Leaf Margin:

Vein Pattern:

Bloom Period: Commercial Availability: Fruit/Seed Abundance:
Mid Summer Routinely Available Medium
Fruit/Seed Period Begin: Fruit/Seed Period End: Fruit/Seed Persistence:
Fall Fall No
Propogated by Bare Root: Propogated by Bulbs: Propogated by Container:
Yes No Yes
Propogated by Corms: Propogated by Cuttings: Propogated by Seed:
No No Yes
Propogated by Sod: Propogated by Sprigs: Propogated by Tubers:
No No No
Seeds per Pound: Seed Spread Rate: Seedling Vigor:
59840 Slow Low
Small Grain: Vegetative Spread Rate: Propagation Treatment:
No None
Days to Stratify: Direct Sowing Time:



  1. Integrated Taxonomic Information SystemAbies balsamea
  2. Minnesota Wildflowers – Abies balsamea
  3. North America Plant Atlas (BONAS)Abies balsamea
  4. UDSA Plants Database – Abies balsamea
  5. USFS FEIS DatabaseAbies balsamea
  6. WisFlora DatabaseAbies balsamea