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Uses Name Characteristics

Balsam Fir

Abies balsamea

Family: Pinaceae

  • Moist woodland soils
  • Colder climates
Fir tree
  • Pyramid-shaped evergreen
Fir bark
  • Flat, dull needles occur in a flattened spray
  • Unlike Eastern Hemlock, no inverse needles occur on stem
  • Whitened beneath
  • Twigs are smooth after needles are removed, in contrast to rough stems of Eastern Hemlock
Fir needles
Reproductive Structures (cones):
  • Cones are 1-3" long and stand upright, in contrast to the hanging cones of an Eastern Hemlock
  • After cones ripen in late autumn they fall apart

The needle-covered boughs provide excellent waterproof shelter when used as a roof on a lean-to. This softwood burns quickly and brightly making it ideal for heat and quick cooking. However, do not depend on fir branches to last until the s'mores; the wood will quickly burn out leaving only ashes rather than smoldering embers.

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