Canaan Fir

The Canaan Fir is considered a newcomer on the Christmas Tree scene, with increasing popularity every year. People love how the Canaan is a cross between the Fraser Fir and Balsam Fir — both hugely popular Christmas Tree varieties. In fact, some botanists regard this variety as a naturally occuring hybrid between the Balsam Fir and Fraser Fir. The name itself is a derivative of one of its native localities – the Canaan Valley in West Virginia.

However, its because of these similarities that the Canaan Fir has been subject to much debate with regards to taxonomical classification – is it a variety of the Balsam Fir or should it be its own species (Abies intermedia)? Currently, the Canaan Fir is classified as a Balsam Fir variety (Abies balsamea var. phanerolepis) but time will tell its final position in the taxonomy.

Characterized with a pleasant scent, they also have excellent needle retention like the Fraser Fir, and exhibit a beautiful deep green color, although sometimes needles will take on a slightly bluish green color with silvery shades on the undersides. The body of the tree features dense branches that take on a pyramidal shape coming to an apex with a long tip at its crown.

Pests and Risk Factors

Just like the Fraser Fir, the Canaan Fir is also susceptible to the Balsam Wooly Adelgid—a voracious insect that can be blamed for the deaths of many mature trees.

But the Balsam Twig Aphid and Spider Mites also tend to munch on the Canaan Fir alongside deer. Who knew Rudolph liked to snack on trees?

Range and Growing Conditions

The Canaan fir derives its name from the Canaan Valley in West Virginia, and when botanists were first beginning to discover this tree, found it only in a limited area. Since this tree is considered to be an “ecotype” (a genetically distinct geographic variety), providing a range is somewhat difficult. The original collections were found in the Canaan Valley in West Virginia at elevations above 3,000 feet, but its very possible this tree could be found in other areas.

Areas that offer a cooler climate with moist, deep, and well-drained soils will offer a thriving habitat for the Canaan Fir. Soils should be moderately to strongly acidic in their pH.

Uses for the Canaan Fir

Due to it occurring naturally in a limited fashion, there are no real uses for this tree in the lumber industry at present.