Abies balsamea (Linnaeus) Miller

Balsam fir is a medium-sized forest tree generally distributed in deep, cold swamps throughout the state. The wood is light, soft, coarse-grained, not durable, pale brown in color, and is of little value as a source of lumber. It is cut along with spruce for pulpwood, and is desirable as a Christmas tree. Balsam pillows are made from the needles.

Bark - smooth, grayish brown in color, dotted with balsam blisters containing fragrant oily resin; in old trees becoming somewhat roughened with small scales.

Twigs - smooth with age, grayish in color.

Winter buds - small, almost spherical, glossy, clustered at end of twigs.

Leaves - borne singly and twisting so as to appear 2-ranked as in the hemlock, flattened rather than 4-sided as in the spruces, dark green in color above, pale below with 2 broad white lines, 3/4 inch long, blunt, not stalked, aromatic when crushed, persistent from 2 to 3 years.

Fruit - an erect cone, 2 1/2 to 4 inches long, rounded at the top, ripening the autumn of the first year, purplish green in color. Cone scales - longer than broad, somewhat fan-shaped, falling the winter following maturity of cone and leaving only the erect central stalk to which they were attached. Seeds - in pairs, winged, dark brown in color, 1/4 inch long, ripening in September.

Distinguishing features - needles without stalks; blisters in bark; cone erect and falling apart when ripe.

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