Fraser Fir vs Balsam Fir | Which is the Best Christmas Tree?


Fraser Fir(Abies fraseri) is a species of fir. Firs (Abies) are a genus of 50–60 species of evergreen coniferous trees. Fraser fir is native to the Southeastern United States. It is a small evergreen coniferous tree.  It has a naturally pyramidal shape. Fraser Fir is used as an ornamental tree such as a Christmas tree.

Balsam Fir(Abies balsamea) is a native to Northeastern North America and eastern and central Canada. It is a small to medium-sized evergreen tree. 

#Fraser FirBalsam Fir
Scientific Name:Abies fraseriAbies balsamea
Native to Southeastern United States Northeastern North America
Tree Height: 30 and 50 feet (10–15 m) tall40-65 ft (12-20 m) tall
Tree Diameter:16 to 20 inches (40–50 cm),1-2 ft (.3-.6 m)
Uses:Widely used as a Christmas treeConstruction lumber, paper (pulpwood), plywood.
Fruit Size: 3.5 to 7 cm4 to 8 cm
Difference between Fraser Fir and Balsam Fir

Fraser Fir vs Balsam Fir uses

Fraser Fir Uses

Due to its natural pyramidal shape, the Fraser fir tree is widely used as a Christmas tree and its popularity is increasing day by day. It takes 7 to 8 years of Fraser fir for a 7 to 9 feet tall Christmas tree.

There are many reasons to use it as Christmas trees, that its needles (leaves) do not fall easily, remain fresh for a long time, are pyramidal in shape and very dense, and easily available. The fruit cone is 2 to 4 inches long.

Balsam Fir Uses

It is used for many works but mainly it is used in the form of lumbar. Balsam fir wood is used in Construction lumber, pulpwood, plywood. Its Janka hardness is 400 lbf (1,780 N) So that 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 for fungi, bacteria, and insects. It is used to make Canada balsam.

Balsam fir is also used as a Christmas tree for some time. Its branches are not as dense as the Fraser fir, Therefore it is not considered better than the Fraser fir for the Christmas tree.

Fraser Fir vs Balsam Fir Identification


Fraser fir has a tree height of about 30 and 50 feet (10–15 m) and trunk diameter is 16 to 20 inches (40–50 cm). Its tree has a conical shape like a Christmas tree. It has many branches which are angled upward from the trunk. Which gives a conical shape to the tree. Its tree is very dense due to which the main trunk of its tree is not visible.

Balsam Fir has a tree height of about 46 – 66 feet (14–20 m) and trunk diameter is 1-2 ft (.3-.6 m). It is a tree growing at a normal speed, the growth rate is 12 inches annually.

Leaves or Needles

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 also has flat needles, the needles are 15 to 30 mm long, dark green. The needles are arranged in a spiral around the twig and It is very dense.


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 approximately 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 large 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 flower is yellow to purple and the female’s flowers are purple, a crown is 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.


Fraser Fir and Balsam Fir are both better species of fir. Both are used for Christmas trees and medicine. But Fraser Fir is more popular for more Christmas trees. While Balsam Fir is known for the use of Christmas trees as well as furniture and plywood.

By the way, 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.

Read also Douglas Fir Timber Properties, Advantages and Disadvantages

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