Fraser Fir

As a younger tree in its prime for Christmas, the Fraser Fir features dense, straight branches that are angled horizontally at about a 40° angle. Blue-green needles appear in a spiral-like pattern down the twigs and branches.

More often than not, the Fraser Fir tends to be the most popular choice among consumers due to its lovely fragrance, sturdy limbs, and its ability to hold onto its needles after being cut. Can you imagine trying to hang ornaments on a tree where the needles constantly fall out? The steeply triangular shape of the tree also increases its appeal during the Holidays.

This species is sometimes called the Southern Balsam or Southern Balsam Fir.

Pests and Risk Factors

The biggest threat to this beautiful evergreen is the Balsam wooly adelgid, a non-native insect that has led to a rapid decline in Fraser Firs in its range. Some scientists have attributed the insect with having killed over 80 percent of mature trees (30-50 feet tall).

However, the Fraser Fir’s ability to regenerate rapidly through seedlings has led to a decent regrowth of younger trees now that the canopy has opened up in some of the mature growth forests.

Range and Growing Conditions

The Fraser Fir can be found growing in the Southeastern Appalachian Mountains in western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and Southwestern Virginia, usually at higher elevations above 3,800 feet unless cultivated in tree farms. It is best grown in soil that is acidic and moisture-rich, although the soil itself needs to be easily drained like a sandy loam. The Fraser Fir thrives in a cooler climate that is moist, with cool summers and snowy winters.

Uses for the Fraser Fir

Using the Fraser Fir as a Christmas Tree is its most popular use since it is not an important source of timber for wood products. Fraser Firs have mostly escaped the lumber industry because they tend to grow on difficult terrain so it’s not cost-effective to cultivate this tree for wood.

When it is used for wood one will find the wood brittle and soft, so it’s better used for light frame construction, knotty paneling, crates, and pulpwood.