Gard. Dict., ed. 8Abies no. 3. 1768
Habitat: Boreal and northern forests
Balsam fir is frequently segregated into two varieties (e.g., H.J. Scoggan 1978–1979) based on whether the bracts are included (var. balsamea) or exserted (var. phanerolepis Fernald), the latter considered by Liu T. S. (1971) to be a hybrid between Abies balsamea and A. fraseri. D.T. Lester (1968) demonstrated, however, that bract length may vary within a cone, annually, and from tree to tree. Nevertheless, a tendency exists for the exserted variety to be found most commonly from Newfoundland south through New England (R.C. Hosie 1969; B.F. Jacobs et al. 1984); it is not found west of Ontario. Western populations lack 3-carene and have other minor chemical differences separating them from eastern balsam fir (E.Zavarin and K.Snajberk 1972; R.S. Hunt and E.von Rudloff 1974). Morphologic variation in balsam fir has been studied mainly east of Ontario; the populations to the west have been ignored for the most part, although they may yield stronger evidence for species subdivision.
In Alberta, populations intermediate between western Abies balsamea and A. bifolia (E.H. Moss 1953; R.S. Hunt and E.von Rudloff 1974, 1979) may be classified as A. balsamea × bifolia. In West Virginia and Virginia, populations of balsam fir tend to be more similar to A. fraseri than are more northern populations (B.F. Jacobs et al. 1984).
Balsam fir (Abies balsamea) is the provincial tree of New Brunswick.