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26. Balsam Fir
The Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea) is a very hearty evergreen found throughout the lakes region of the upper Midwest, and Winona State has proudly placed several of these trees on campus.
The Balsam Fir is extremely fragrant and has an attractive, symmetrically pyramidal growth pattern. Both of these characteristics make it a popular choice for Christmas trees.
Balsam Fir can be identified by their flat, dark-green needles, which have white, silvery bands of stomata on the underside. The branchlets of the soft Balsam Fir needles are springy and in days gone by were used in mattresses and pillows for lumbermen and campers in the northern woods providing comfortable and aromatic rest.
The fruit of the Balsam Fir is a dark violet cone when young and grows to a 2 to 4 inch long gray-brown cone when mature.
The bark of all but the very oldest Balsam Fir trees has blisters containing aromatic resin. Interestingly, this resin is so pure and transparent, it can be used for cementing microscope lenses and mounting microscopic specimens in laboratory experiments. Unfortunately, the resin is highly flammable and in a forest fire can quickly lead to the demise of the tree.
The Balsam Fir prefers moist locations and rarely grows to be taller than 75 feet.
A group of Balsam Fir can be found on the east side of Winona State University's Performing Arts Center.
(see #78 on the maps)
Last Modified: Thursday, May 08, 2008 13:59 by