Balsam Firis not native to Ohio, but is found as an escape into the wild in small areas of northeastern Ohio and Appalachia, where the winters are coldest and the soil is more acidic. It is rarely planted as an ornamental evergreen in urban areas, where its growth rate is slow. The soft wood of this tree is used in Canada as pulp for paper production. It is also prized as a Christmas tree that holds its needles especially well after cutting.
Balsam Fir is native to much of Canada, New England, and the northernmost states of the central United States and Great Lakes region. Mature specimens found in the open may grow to 70 feet tall by 20 feet wide, with a columnar growth habit and layered branching. As a member of the Pine Family, it is related to other Firs, as well as to the Larches, Spruces, Pines, and Hemlocks.
Planting Requirements- Although not native to Ohio, Balsam Fir achieves reasonable growth in. Placement near bodies of water so that its deeper roots can tap into the water table (or watering with an irrigation system, such as at Christmas tree farms) assists its summer survival, as does general shelter from the drying winds of summer. As with any evergreen, it may be used as a screen or windbreak. It grows in full sun to partial sun, from zones 3 to 5, and strongly prefers areas with cool summers and cold winters.
Potential Problems- Firs are generally disease- and pest-free once established, as long as they are sited in relatively cool summer climates. Balsam Fir is occasionally prone to trunk canker as a disease, and woolly adelgid and spruce budworm as pests, but not usually so.
The tree shown in the top photo is sited in a cemetery in Columbus, Ohio, and has obviously survived many hot and dry summers in the center of the state to achieve state champion status. It is predictable that, like most tall and isolated trees, it eventually falls victim to either lightning or strong winds. This tree was struck by lightning in 1993 and has many dead individual branches, but still survives today.