Abies fraseri - Fraser fir, or southern balsam fir

Scattered patches of Fraser fir grow at elevations 1600-2000m in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern North America. At higher elevations it grows as pure forests, lower down as mixed forest, usually with red spruce (Picea rubens). The climate of the area is typically rather wet with frequent fog. The tree species of the upper slopes of the Appalachians are probably relicts surviving from a colder age, like the scattered Korean fir (Abies koreana) groves in the mountains of South Korea.

Fraser fir so closely resembles balsam fir (A. balsamea) that it is considered by some to be its subspecies. The needles spread - comb-like sideways - in the same way, though those of the Fraser fir are shorter. However, the cones differ: those of the Fraser fir have long reflexed bracts projecting beyond the cone scales. Fraser fir is smaller and slower-growing than balsam fir. Fraser fir is popular as a Christmas tree in the eastern USA due to its beautiful regular habit.

In the wild Fraser fir grows on unusually acid soil (pH 3,5-4,2). It is difficult to say whether this sets special demands for growing it in Finland, since there is little experience with the species so far. The results of earlier trials at Mustila have been disappointing but seeds of Roan Mountain origin, sown in 2000, have so far grown well.