Balsam Fir
Abies balsamea

Family: Pinaceae (py-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Abies (A-bees) (Info)
Species: balsamea (bal-SAM-ee-uh) (Info)






over 40 ft. (12 m)


15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:




Other details:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

By grafting

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Prescott, Arizona

Boise, Idaho

Andover, Minnesota

Longville, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota (2 reports)

Trenton, New Jersey

Portland, Oregon

West Chester, Pennsylvania

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Dec 21, 2013, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

It is a handsome conifer with very aromatic foliage that grows well in the Northwoods of states like MN, WI, MI, NY, ME. I first saw a few in the Chicago area, but they were not thriving, just getting by because of hot, dry summers. I finally saw a good specimen, not in the northwoods, in southeast PA in a small hill with some White Pines and shrubs nearby. I knew it was Balsam because of the aromatic foliage; otherwise I was expecting a Frasier Fir, which is more heat tolerant.


On Aug 25, 2007, famartin from Trenton, NJ wrote:

Have not seen this tree age yet, but in youth its very attractive if grown in full sun. Despite the heat, seems to do alright as far south as central New Jersey, at least in youth.


On Mar 15, 2006, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

This is a shade tolerant tree that can survives where spruces wil have trouble but don't plant it near other trees as its top will become misshaped. Certain species of warblers seem to love it during their spring migration north. I have three trees, dug up north from a relative's property and it appear that it is rare in commerical because a lot of sources has negativity about its cultivity, especially short life spans. To tell the difference between this tree and spruces, it have a smooth bark with resin scars. Roots appear to be shallow, growing in sandy soil making it a bit difficult to mow. Its zone hardiness is to 2, as it is one of a few trees that goes to the arctic circle.
Update: I have seen a cool form in nature - at Scenic State Park on a trail called Chase Point there i... read more


On Feb 11, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

A steeple shaped evergreen tree with up to 1 1/2" long and whitened beneath. Most needles are in flattened sprays and have a broad circular base.

Cones are 1" to 3" long and fall apart upon ripening in late Autumn, leaving erect central cores.

These trees may grow as a matlike plant at the timberline.

Bark is rather smooth with resin blisters.

The resin was often sold in stores as a confection before the invention of chicle chewing gum, and the resinous knots were often used as torches.


On Jan 15, 2005, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This tree can reach a height of up to 75'. It's a popular Christmas tree, as well. Prefers cooler regions. The needles are fairly short and flat. The root systems are typically shallow. Cones are cylindrical shaped.