The Fraser fir is the most popular Christmas tree. Fraser has one-inch soft needles and stronger branches than Balsam fir. So you can make heavy decorations on the Fraser. Balsam fir grows rapidly while Fraser fir grows slowly.
Apart from Fraser fir and balsam fir, there are many other species of fir that are used as Christmas trees.
Most Christmas trees are grown on farms, in the U.S., has nearly 15,000 Christmas tree farms. More than 350 million Christmas trees are currently growing on Christmas tree farms in the U.S.
Fraser Fir (Abies fraseri) is a species of fir. Firs (Abies) are a genus of 50–60 species of evergreen coniferous trees. It is native to the Southeastern United States and is a small evergreen coniferous tree. It has a perfect conical shape. Fraser Fir is widely used as an ornamental tree, such as a Christmas tree.
Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea) is used as a Christmas tree and to treat lung ailments. It is native to Northeastern North America and eastern and central Canada. It is small to a medium-sized evergreen tree.
|#||Fraser Fir||Balsam Fir|
|Scientific Name:||Abies fraseri||Abies balsamea|
|Native to||Southeastern United States||Northeastern North America|
|Tree Height:||30 and 50 feet (10–15 m) tall||90 to 100 feet (28-30 meters) tall|
|Tree Diameter:||16 to 20 inches (40–50 cm),||1-2 ft (.3-.6 m)|
|Uses:||Widely used as a Christmas tree||Construction lumber, paper (pulpwood), plywood.|
|Fruit Size:||3.5 to 7 cm||4 to 8 cm|
Fraser Fir vs Balsam Fir uses
Fraser Fir Uses
The Fraser fir is the most popular evergreen tree for Christmas decorations. It takes 7 to 8 years for a Christmas tree (7 to 9 feet high).
There are many reasons to use it as a Christmas tree. Its needles (leaves) are strong, remain fresh and fragrant for a long time, and have an attractive conical shape. Fraser fir is extensively cultivated, hence it is easily available.
Fraser fir is not cultivated for lumber as it grows in difficult terrain. The second reason is also that the wood is soft and brittle.
Balsam Fir Uses
Balsam fir is also used as a Christmas tree. Its branches are not as strong as the Fraser fir. Therefore, it is not a good choice for heavy ornaments.
Apart from the Christmas tree, it is also used as lumber. Balsam Fir wood is an excellent choice for tables, ottomans, and chairs.
Balsam fir is also used in construction, pulpwood, and plywood. Its Janka hardness is 400 lbf (1,780 N). So it is softwood and it is non-durable to perishable regarding decay resistance. Therefore, it is not suitable for outdoor furniture.
Native Americans have been using balsam fir as medicine for thousands of years. They believe it is very effective against fungi, bacteria, and insects.
Fraser Fir vs Balsam Fir Identification
Fraser cedars are deep blue-green in color. Whereas balsam fir has two colors ranging from silver to dark green.
Fraser fir has a tree height of about 30 to 50 feet (10–15 meters) and its trunk diameter is 16 to 20 inches (40–50 cm). Its tree has a conical shape.
It has many branches which are angled upward from the trunk. Which gives a conical shape to the tree. Its tree is very dense. So the main trunk of its tree is not visible.
Balsam Fir has a tree height of about 90 to 100 feet (28-30 meters) tall and its trunk diameter is 1.5-2.5 ft (.3-.6 m). It is a tree growing at a normal speed; the growth rate is 12 inches annually.
Fraser fir is a conifer tree. So all fir species trees have needles. Their needles are 0.4–0.9 inches (10–23 mm) long and 79–87 mil (2–2.2 mm) broad. Each branch has twigs with short green needles that grow in 2 rows. They give a mild turpentine-like scent when crushed.
Balsam fir has flat needles and branches; the needles are 15 to 30 mm long, and dark green. The needles are arranged in a spiral around the twig and it is dense, but not like a Fraser.
Fraser fir gives fruits as cones; cone size is 1.4 to 2.75 inches (3.5–7 cm) long, and 1–1.2 inches (2.5–3 cm) broad. The color is dark brownish-purple and turns pale brown when mature. This cone is ready to release seeds when they mature at the age of 4-6 months old.
The length of the Balsam fir cone is about 4 to 8 cm and the mature fruit is 5 to 10 cm, dark purple. The mature cones ripen during the first fall in August and September.
Fraser Fir has silvery gray-brown bark. The bark of the young tree is slightly smooth, while the mature tree has a slightly rough bark.
The bark of young Balsam fir trees is smooth, gray, and with resin blisters, and it becomes even rougher and larger blisters with age.
Fraser Fir is monoecious, a monoecious tree that has male flowers and female flowers on the same tree. The structure of these flowers is just different. Its male flowers are yellow to purple, and the female flowers are purple. A crown is placed on top of the female flower.
Balsam fir is also monoecious like Fraser fir. Flower buds usually open in late May or early June. Male flowers are purple to yellow-brown and female flowers are purple and inconspicuous in the upper crown-like Fraser fir.
How to Choose?
Fraser and balsam are both great, but we have to choose one. Here are some more points.
- Fraser fir can hold heavier ornaments because it has strong branches.
- Fraser fir has a perfect conical shape that looks suitable for a Christmas tree.
- Fraser fir has silvery-green needles and is soft to the touch.
- Balsams fir has a stronger scent than Fraser.
- Balsam has two shades of color, silver to dark green.
- Balsam has flexible branches, so it is not suitable for heavy ornaments.
Fraser Fir and Balsam Fir are both great species of Fir. Fraser fir is actually a subspecies of the balsam fir. Both are used for Christmas trees. But Fraser Fir is more popular as a Christmas tree.
Balsam Fir is known for its use in Christmas trees as well as furniture and plywood.
By the way, the Douglas fir is also used as a Christmas tree. But the needles of Douglas fir are soft. While the needles of Fraser Fir are hard and strong so that they do not break and bend during decoration.
Today, we also have the option of Artificial Christmas trees in many online shops, which originated in Germany.
But I personally believe that a natural Christmas tree cannot be compared with an artificial Christmas tree. But we have a choice.
Read also Douglas Fir Timber Properties, Advantages and Disadvantages