Balsam fir

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Balsam Fir


An evergreen coniferous tree, Abies balsamea, native to the northeastern United States and Canada. The fragrant, light yellowish brown balsam fir timber has a coarse but even grain. The wood is brittle and not very durable. It is used for packing boxes and paper pulp. Balsam fir produce a viscous oleoresin called Canada balsam.

Synonyms and Related Terms

"Abies balsamea; bálsamo de abeto (Esp.); fir balsam; pine fir; balm of Gilead fir "

Balsam fir (Abies balsamea)

Other Properties

Paper fiber type: Softwood. Using transmitted light microscopy, fibers are identified by large taxodiod ray parenchyma pits. Pits are frequently 2-3 across in horizontal rows. Appearance with Graff "C" stain: varies with pulping and bleaching. Average dimensions of fibers: length 3.5mm; width 30-40μm. Common pulping method: sulfite or kraft.

Additional Information

H. A. Alden, A.C. Wiedenhoeft, "Qualified Determination of Provenance of Wood of the Firs (Abies spp. Mill) Using Microscopic Features of Rays: An Aid to Conservators, Curators and Art Historians" AIC Poster, reprinted online at

Additional Images

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 83
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Kurt Wehlte, The Materials and Techniques of Painting, Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1975
  • Marja-Sisko Ilvessalo-Pfäffli. Fiber Atlas: Identification of Papermaking Fibers (Springer Series in Wood Science). Springer, 1995.
  • Walter Rantanen. "Fiber ID Course." Integrated Paper Services. June 2013. Lecture.