T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Abies balsamea (Balsam Fir)

Kingdom:   Plantae
Division:    Pinophyta
Class:        Pinopsida
Order:       Pinales
Family:      Pinaceae
Genus:      Abies
Species:     A. balsamea
Binomial name: Abies balsamea
Synonyms: Pinus balsamea, Pinus taxifolia, Abies balsamifera, Peuce balsamea, Abies hudsonia, Picea balsamea, Abies minor, Picea aromatica
Common name:  Balsam Fir

Abies balsamea is a North American fir, native to most of eastern and central Canada (Newfoundland west to central Alberta) and the northeastern United States (Minnesota east to Maine, and south in the Appalachian Mountains to West Virginia). It can grow to be a maximum of 200 years old.
Abies balsamea is a small to medium-size evergreen tree typically 14–20 metres tall with a narrow conic crown.
The branches grow from the trunk at right angles, with the lower branches spreading and drooping to the ground when the tree grows in the open.  
The bark on young trees is smooth, grey, and with resin blisters (which tend to spray when ruptured), becoming rough and fissured or scaly on old trees.
The leaves are flat needle-like, 15 to 30 millimetres long, shiny dark green above and lighter color with whitish stripes on the underside on each needle. They often have a small patch of stomata near the tip, and two white stomatal bands below, and a slightly notched tip. They are arranged spirally on the shoot, but with the leaf bases twisted to appear in two more-or-less horizontal rows.
Abies balsamea is monoecious; males flowers occur on undersides of leaf axils, purple to yellow-brown; females flowers occur in upper crown, are purple and inconspicuous.
The green resinous cones stand vertically, 40 to 80 millimetres long, ripening brown and disintegrating to release the winged seeds.

Photographed at Pukekura Park,New Plymouth.