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Abies fraseri (Fraser fir)
Smith, R.W.

Abies fraseri

Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poir.

Fraser Fir, She-balsam

Pinaceae (Pine Family)

Synonym(s): Pinus fraseri


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Common in virgin spruce-fir forests at Great Smoky Mountains National Park and at Mount Mitchell, North Carolina. With its silvery and green foliage, this species is grown for Christmas trees and ornament. Known locally as "She-balsam," because of the resin produced in the bark. In contrast, Red Spruce (Picea rubens) in the same forest but without resin blister is often called "He-balsam." John Fraser (1750-1811), the Scottish explorer, discovered this fir and introduced it and many other plants to Europe. The only native Southeastern fir, a handsome tree with pointed crown of silvery white aromatic foliage. The natural population of this species is currently being reduced by a European insect introduced via non-native firs, the Balsam Woolly Adelgid (Adelges piceae).


From the Image Gallery

10 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Linear
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Cone
Size Notes: Up to about 75 feet tall.
Leaf: Dark Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Purple
Bloom Time: Apr


USA: GA , NC , TN , VA
Native Distribution: Appalachian Mountains in sw. Virginia, w. North Carolina, and e. Tennessee; at 4000-6000'
Native Habitat: Coniferous forests with Red Spruce in high mountains.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Shade
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Additional resources

USDA: Find Abies fraseri in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Abies fraseri in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Abies fraseri


Record Modified: 2015-08-05
Research By: TWC Staff

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