Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.
- Family: Pine (Pinaceae)
- Fruiting Cones: May-June
- Field Marks: The apparent 2-ranked leaves give the branches a flattened appearance. The
flat leaves are whitened on the lower surface, and the cones are borne in an upright position.
- Habitat: Moist woods, swamps.
- Habit: Tree to 90 feet tall, with the crown tapering to a point; trunk up to 1 1/2 feet in diameter, with brown, scaly bark.
- Twigs: Slender, horizontal, pale green to gray, reddish, or purplish, minutely hairy; winter buds spherical, 1/6-1/3 inch in diameter, with orange-green scales.
- Leaves: Needles narrowly linear, flat, rounded at the tip but sometimes with a short point, sessile, dark green above, whitened below, 1-nerved, up to 1 1/2 inches long on sterile branches, shorter on cone-bearing branches.
- Reproductive Structures: Pollen-producing structures crowded in a spike; female structures arranged in a cone, each subtended by a bract.
- Fruits: Cones upright, cylindrical, rounded at the tip, up to 4 inches long, up to 1 1/4 inches thick, borne in rows on the upper side of the branches, purplish when young.
- Notes: The light weight wood is of little commercial value, but the trees are sold as Christmas trees and the resin produced by the tree is the source of Canada balsam.
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