Fir Balsam Balsam Fir
=Habitat and Range.=--Rich, damp, cool woods, deep swamps, mountain
Labrador, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia, northwest to the Great
Bear Lake region.
Maine,--very generally distributed, ordinarily associated with white
pine, black spruce, red spruce, and a few deciduous trees, growing at an
altitude of 4500 feet upon Katahdin; New Hampshire,--common in upper
Coos county and in the White mountains, where it climbs up to the alpine
area; in the southern part of the state, in the extensive swamps
around the sources of the Contoocook and Miller's rivers, it is the
prevailing timber; Vermont,--common; not rare on mountain slopes and
even summits; Massachusetts,--not uncommon on mountain slopes in the
northwestern and central portions of the state, ranging above the red
spruces upon Graylock; a few trees here and there in damp woods or cold
swamps in the southern and eastern sections, where it has probably been
accidentally introduced; Rhode Island and Connecticut,--not reported.
South to Pennsylvania and along high mountains to Virginia; west to
=Habit.=--A slender, handsome tree, the most symmetrical of the New
England spruces, with a height of 25-60 feet, and a diameter of 1-2 feet
at the ground, reduced to a shrub at high altitudes; branches in young
trees usually in whorls; branchlets mostly opposite. The branches go out
from the trunk at an angle varying to a marked degree even in trees of
about the same size and apparent age; in some trees declined near the
base, horizontal midway, ascending near the top; in others horizontal or
ascending throughout; in others declining throughout like those of the
Norway spruce; all these forms growing apparently under precisely the
same conditions; head widest at the base and tapering regularly upward;
foliage dark bright green; cones erect and conspicuous.
=Bark.=--Bark of trunk in old trees a variegated ashen gray, appearing
smooth at a short distance, but often beset with fine scales, with one
edge scarcely revolute, giving a ripply aspect; branches and young trees
mottled or striate, greenish-brown and very smooth; branchlets from
which the leaves have fallen marked with nearly circular leaf-scars;
season's shoots pubescent; bark of trunk in all trees except the oldest
with numerous blisters, containing the Canada balsam of commerce.
=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Buds small, roundish, resinous, grouped on
the leading shoots. Leaves scattered, spirally arranged in rows, at
right angles to twig, or disposed in two ranks like the hemlock; 1/2-1
inch long, dark glossy green on the upper surface, beneath silvery
bluish-white, and traversed lengthwise by rows of minute dots, flat,
narrowly linear; apex blunt, in young trees and upon vigorous shoots,
often slightly but distinctly notched, or sometimes upon upper branches
with a sharp, rigid point; sessile; aromatic.
=Inflorescence.=--Early spring. Lateral or terminal on shoots of the
preceding season; sterile flowers oblong-cylindrical, 1/4 inch in
length; anthers yellow, red-tinged: fertile flowers on the upper side of
the twig, erect, cylindrical; cover-scales broad, much larger than the
purple ovuliferous scales, terminating in a long, recurved tip.
=Fruit.=--Cones along the upper side of the branchlets, erect or nearly
so in all stages of growth, purplish when young, 3-5 inches long, 1 inch
or more wide; puberulous; cover-scales at maturity much smaller than
ovuliferous scales, thin, obovate, serrulate, bristle-pointed;
ovuliferous scales thin, broad, rounded; edge minutely erose, serrulate
or entire; both kinds of scales falling from the axis at maturity; seeds
=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy in New England, but best adapted to the
northern sections; grows rapidly in open or shaded situations,
especially where there is cool, moist, rich soil; easily transplanted;
suitable for immediate effects in forest plantations, but not desirable
for a permanent ornamental tree, as it loses the lower branches at an
early period. Nurserymen and collectors offer it in quantity at a low
price. Propagated from seed.
1. Branch with flower-buds.
2. Branch with sterile flowers.
3. Branch with fertile flowers.
4. Cover-scale and ovuliferous scale with ovules, inner side.
5. Fruiting branch.
6. Ovuliferous scales with ovules at maturity, inner side.
7. Cone-scale and ovuliferous scale at maturity, outer side.
10-11. Cross-sections of leaves.
=Thuja occidentalis, L.=
Next: Arbor-vitae White Cedar Cedar