Abies fraseri

Fraser Fir, Southern Balsam Fir




  • native to Appalachian Mountains in the southeastern United States
  • zone 4

Habit and Form

  • evergreen tree
  • 30' to 40' tall by 20' to 25' wide
  • pyramidal in shape with horizontal branches
  • dense when young, more open with age
  • fine to medium texture
  • slow growth rate

Summer Foliage

  • 0.5 to 1" long needles
  • resinous buds
  • dark green with 2 broad stomatal bands on underside
  • entire margins
  • needle apex is notched
  • needles densely cover stem
  • pine scented

Autumn Foliage

  • no fall color (evergreen)


  • no ornamental value
  • monoecious


  • tan to medium brown cones
  • purple when immature
  • ovoid, 1.5" to 2.5" long and about half as wide
  • bracts bend downward and cover scales
  • cones shatter on tree soon after maturity


  • smooth, dull green bark turning brown and platy with age
  • many resin blisters
  • new stems are gray to light brown, very resinous


  • easily transplanted with root pruning
  • prefers moist, well-drained loam
  • full sun is best
  • does better in dry conditions than Abies balsamea
  • prefers cooler climates

Landscape Uses

  • a favored Christmas tree
  • accent or specimen
  • decoration


  • dislikes high pH
  • performs poorly in excessively hot and dry situations
  • often damaged by deer

ID Features

  • needles have notched tip
  • branched held horizontal and relatively short
  • dense short needles
  • circular leaf scars
  • resinous buds


  • by seed, stratification period beneficial for good germination


'Klein's Nest' - A compact, dwarf form not exceeding 3' tall and featuring short needles and small purple cones.

'Prostrata' - A slow-growing selection reaching only about 5' tall and is 10' wide. Develops a nice spreading shape that hugs the ground.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database, http://hort.uconn.edu/plants, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.