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Trees of Iowa: An Interactive Key

Balsam Fir
(Abies balsamea)


The leaves are blunt needles.


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The balsam fir is a medium-sized tree, 50 to 60 feet in height.  It is native to northeast Iowa where it grows on moist slopes.

Hardiness: zones 3 through 6

Growth Rate:
slow

Mature Shape:
densely pyramidal

Height:
40 to 70 feet

Width:
15 to 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.

Flowering Dates: May

Seed Dispersal Dates: October

Seed Bearing Age: 15 Years

Seed Bearing Frequency: Every 3-5 Years

Seed Stratification: One month at 34F to 40F
Balsam Fir Form Balsam Fir Form


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.

Balsam Fir LeavesBalsam Fir Winter Buds


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.

Balsam Fir Cones

The brown bark breaks into small plates covered with scales. The young bark is often covered with pitch blister, hence the name "balsam."

 

Click on a thumbnail image below to view a larger picture.
Balsam Fir Cones Balsam Fir Bark Balsam Fir Form Balsam Fir branch with winter buds Balsam Fir Leaves