fraser fir

What do you know about this beloved Christmas tree?

Fraser fir is a high altitude conifer related to the northern balsam fir. Firs occupy a very limited native range in the high elevations of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Acid rain and wool-hard ice caused immediate and severe damage to native Fraser fir forests. For these reasons, it is threatened in its original habitat.

People using Fraser firs for their Christmas trees should buy them from tree farms and growers rather than harvesting them from the forest themselves. Although it is not balsam fir, it is sometimes called southern balsam or mother balsam. It is also known as Oriental fir, Fraser balsam fir, and southern fir.

How to Identify Fraser Fir

To successfully identify Fraser firs, you should know how to identify fir trees in general. The cones of the fir stand upright as cylinders. They break down before they hit the ground. Their needles are soft and the tips are blunt rather than sharp. Unlike spruce, there are no needles at the base of their branches.

The distribution of Fraser firs is obvious. Its native habitat is limited to the high elevations of the Appalachian Mountains in southwestern Virginia, western North Carolina, and eastern Tennessee. It is the only fir species endemic to the southern Appalachian Mountains.

The largest tree ever recorded was nearly 34 inches in diameter. It is 87 feet tall with a canopy spread of 52 feet. However, a more typical size range is 50 to 60 feet with a DBH of less than 12 inches.

The slightly upward sloping branches can help you identify a Fraser fir. The tree exudes a pleasant smell, like its relative, the balsam fir.

protection status

The endangered Fraser fir is most threatened by an invasive insect introduced to the United States from Europe in the 1950s, an A relative of the aphid. When a tree becomes infested with this insect, it starves or dies of other diseases after being weakened. By the 1980s, millions of trees had been devoured by balsam wool jelly.

Its death will have dire consequences for rare wildlife such as northern flying squirrels, Weller newts, spruce moss spiders, mountain ash and rock goblin lichens , these animals depend on this tree for survival.

The Fraser fir population is not yet known, but the last time the IUCN assessed Fraser fir populations was in 2011, when it was declining .

used as a Christmas tree

To illustrate how popular the Fraser Fir is as a Christmas tree, North The Carolina Christmas Tree Association says 58 million firs are planted each year for this purpose in the state alone.

The plant’s fragrance, shape, strong limbs, soft needles, and ability to retain needles for a long time when cut make it a popular Christmas tree. Some reasons for favorites. Its slender growth habit makes it attractive to decorators of small spaces.

Fraser fir has been used as the Blue House Christmas tree (the official Christmas tree of the White House) more than any other type of tree. In the UK it is grown on plantations in Scotland and sold throughout the island.

When starting a Christmas tree growing business, farmers need to take a long-term view because even a 5-year-old sapling can take 10 years to harvest and sell. Fraser fir takes about 12 years to grow to a height of 6 to 7 feet.

Fraser firs need well-drained soil with an acidic pH between 5 and 6. They require a lot of space around them for easy care and air circulation, which helps reduce the threat of disease infection. Annual maintenance includes watering and feeding, pruning to guide shape, weed control.

Caring for a Fraser Fir Christmas Tree

If you want your Fraser fir to look good for the 12 days (or longer) of Christmas, the most important thing is to water it. When you first bring it home When cutting, saw off a half inch to an inch from the trunk to open the pores. Do not saw at an angle. Keep the tree away from heat to prevent it from drying out and water daily.