Abies balsamea 'Nana'
Common Name: balsam fir 
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Pinaceae
Zone: 3 to 6
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Leaf: Fragrant, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

Best grown in rich, consistently moist, slightly acidic, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in full sun. Trees grow poorly in heavy clay soils. Trees are native to cool climates, and are not recommended for planting in the hot and humid summer conditions south of USDA Zone 5.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Abies balsamea, commonly called balsam fir, is native to moist woods and bottomlands from Labrador to Alberta south to northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, New England, New York and further south in the Appalachians to Virginia. It is a primary component of the boreal forest that stretches across Canada. This is an aromatic, symmetrical, narrow, pyramidal to conical evergreen conifer with a spire-like crown. It typically grows to 50-70' (less frequently to 90') tall and to 15-25' wide. It appears, albeit in a diminished shrubby form, as far north as the timber line. Resinous branches are densely clad with flattened, shiny, dark green needles (to 1" long). Needles are unstalked with circular bases and are white-banded beneath. Smooth gray-brown bark (greenish when young but brown and scaly on older trees) is covered with blisters which contain a sticky aromatic resin. Cylindrical seed cones (to 2-4" long) appear at the crown. Cones are purple when young. As is distinctive with the firs, the cones appear upright on the branches. Cones disintegrate (scales drop) after the seeds ripen, often leaving only the erect central spike of the cone axis.

Genus name is an ancient Latin name for a tree described by Pliny around 77 A.D.

Specific epithet refers to the fragrant quality of the tree.

'Nana' grows only 1-2 feet tall and as wide and has dark green needles. Dirr states that it is probably the same as Abies balsamea f. hudsonia also listed as A. b. 'Hudsonia'.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Insect pests include Balsam woolly adelgids, bark beetles, spruce budworms, aphids, bagworms and scale. Spider mites may occur in hot conditions. Disease problems include cankers, heart rot, root rot, needle rust and twig blight. Trees are generally intolerant of urban pollution.

Garden Uses

Specimen fir for the landscape. Ornamental yard tree. Popular commercially grown Christmas tree because of its attractive fragrance and long retention of needles. Not recommended for the St. Louis climate.