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Balsam Fir Christmas Tree

The smell of a freshly cut balsam fir is a fragrant part of many holiday celebrations.

The resin blisters on this fir give it the distinct fragrance and the resin inside has quite an interesting history. It was once used to mount thin specimens on microscope slides. It was also sold in confectionary stores as a precursor to chewing gum.

Civil War soldiers used a resin balm to treat wounds and resin knots as torches.

And still today you may find people stuffing pillows with the aromatic needles. Today it is used as a festive touch to the holidays, in the past the “pine pillows” were used as a deodorant.

This evergreen thrives in cooler climates and prefers moist slightly acidic soil and humid conditions. So if your landscape lacks these conditions, enjoy your balsam fir for the holidays and look for a more suitable evergreen for your backyard.

A bit more information: As you hike through native stands of balsam you may find wildlife like moose and deer munching on the needles and chickadees, squirrels and porcupines eating the seeds. And others find cover under the fragrant branches.