Photo of Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)

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This photo shows the bark of a balsam fir (Abies balsamea). Note that the bark is relatively smooth overall, and its only features are horizontally-oriented, including rows of lenticels that hint at cherry bark, and resin-filled blisters that are a key characteristic of this species.

The bark is easily distinguished from the more scaly bark of spruces, or the bark of hemlocks, pines, and cedars that have more vertically-oriented features.

Photographer & Copyright

© Doug Goldman

Photo Source

CC BY 4.0

Inclusion in Plant ID / Comparison Guides

This photo is featured in 3 plant ID/comparison guides:

collage of Eastern Hemlock and Balsam Fir

Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) vs. Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)

Updated July 28th, 2020

These species are easily distinguished, but are sometimes confused by people inexperienced in conifer identification, especially when comparing hemlocks to firs growing in shade, as the needle arrangement of such firs is flatter along the twig and superficially looks much like hemlock.

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collage of White Spruce and Balsam Fir

White Spruce (Picea glauca) vs. Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)

Updated December 29th, 2019

Balsam fir and white spruce are sometimes confused where they overlap; balsam fir grown in sun can have a similar bluish color to its foliage and the needle shape and arrangement can look more similar than when in shade. Both can occupy late stages in forest succession and be found in similar habitats. The two species are easily told apart by a close look at their needles, by crushing and smelling the needles, by cones, and by bark.

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The other guide is not yet completed and published.