What it looks like

The balsam fir is one of the most recognizable trees in Ontario. It’s tall and narrow and tapers to a skinny point at the top.

It looks a bit like a church steeple. When the tree is young, its bark is covered in sap blisters. The sticky sap is always on the tree, so be careful not to brush up against it.

Its cones are barrel shaped and greyish brown and are 4 to 10 centimetres long. Its needles are 2 to 4 centimetres long and dark and shiny green, with two white bands underneath.

Where it is found

The balsam fir grows in a variety of climates and temperatures and is found across Ontario.

Planting Tips

  • Size: Up to 30 metres tall, trunk 60 centimetres in diameter
  • Moisture: Tolerates different moisture levels
  • Shade: Tolerates shade
  • Soil: Grows in a variety of soils

The roots of the balsam fir don’t go very deep in to the soil – they have been known to blow down during extremely high winds, so be sure to plant your balsam fir in a sheltered area, or away from your house.

When the balsam fir grows in a group of other trees, the branches at the bottom of the tree die and dry out. When in the open, the tree gets more sunlight and the lower branches stay green all the way to the ground.

Did you know?

Balsam firs are often used as Christmas trees because they have a wonderful scent, and the needles stay on the tree for a long time after it’s been cut down.

Image credits

  • Tree: Daniel Tigner, Canadian Forest Trees Essences
  • Needles: Daniel Tigner, Canadian Forest Trees Essences
  • Bark: Daniel Tigner, Canadian Forest Trees Essences
  • Cone: Daniel Tigner, Canadian Forest Trees Essences
Updated: October 06, 2021
Published: July 18, 2014