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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

winged, purplish.

=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.

8-9. Leaves.

10-11. Cross-sections of leaves.

=Thuja occidentalis, L.=

Next: Arbor-vitae White Cedar Cedar

Previous: Hemlock

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