Fraser Fir vs Balsam Fir: 5 Key Differences

Written by August Croft
Published: June 12, 2022
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There are a number of reasons why you may want to know the differences between a Fraser Fir vs Balsam Fir, but what might some of those reasons be? Whether you are shopping for a popular live Christmas tree variety or simply want to know what type of fir works best in your backyard landscaping, you’re in the right place. 

In this article, we will compare and contrast everything you need to know about the Fraser Fir and the Balsam Fir so that you can understand all of the similarities that these two trees have. We will go over what they look like, their classifications, and if they have any common uses. Finally, we will address where they typically grow best, including the hardiness zones recommended for growing them. Let’s get started now! 

Comparing Fraser Fir vs Balsam Fir

Fraser Fir vs Balsam Fir
The Fraser Fir has bluish silver needles that grow in every direction, while Balsam Firs have flat needles in an iconic deep green and silver color.
Fraser FirBalsam Fir
ClassificationPinaceae; Abies fraseriPinaceae; Abies balsamea
DescriptionRanges from 30-50 feet tall and has blue-silver needles on its branches. Thick and sturdy branches with needles growing in every direction. Not a very strong scent, but has a wonderfully full appearanceGrows an average of 50-70 feet tall, with deep green and silver needles. More sparse than the Fraser, with flexible branches. Needles lay flat and smell amazing, though the branches are less sturdy overall
UsesMost regularly distributed Christmas tree variety; resin used for scrapes and burnsMost iconic Christmas tree variety; resin used as an antiseptic
Hardiness Zones4-73-6
Originated InSouthern United StatesThroughout North America

Key Differences Between Fraser Fir vs Balsam Fir

fraser fir vs balsam fir

Balsam Firs grow much taller than Fraser Firs, reaching an average of 50-70 feet tall, while Fraser Firs only reach 30-50 feet tall.

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There are a number of key differences between Fraser Firs and Balsam Firs. For example, the average Balsam Fir grows much taller than the average Fraser Fir, by many feet. Additionally, the Fraser Fir has needles that grow in every direction, while the Balsam Fir has flat needles on its branches. Finally, the Fraser Fir grows in hardiness zones 4 through 7, while The Balsam Fir grows in hardiness zones 3 through 6. 

Let’s discuss all of these differences and a few more in detail now. 

Fraser Fir vs Balsam Fir: Classification

There are nearly 250 different species of pine trees found around the world, and most of the Fraser Fir in The Balsam Fir are members of this family. They do not have a different classification from one another in this way, besides the fact that they are different species. While this may not seem like a significant difference, it does make them very different trees from one another. Let’s talk about how they differ from one another in their appearance now. 

Fraser Fir vs Balsam Fir: Description

fraser fir vs balsam fir

While both of these trees smell distinctly of pine, the Balsam Fir smells more strongly compared to the average Fraser Fir.

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While it may take some getting used to, there are a few things to keep an eye out for if you are hoping to tell the difference between a Balsam Fir and a Fraser Fir upon first glance. A potential dead giveaway could be the fact that Balsam Firs grow much taller than Fraser Firs, reaching an average of 50-70 feet tall, while Fraser Firs only reach 30-50 feet tall.

Additionally, the Fraser Fir has bluish silver needles that grow in every direction, while Balsam Firs have flat needles in an iconic deep green and silver color. While both of these trees smell distinctly of pine, the Balsam Fir smells more strongly compared to the average Fraser Fir. Finally, the branches of the Fraser Fir are stronger compared to the flexible branches of the Balsam Fir, which is important to note if you are Christmas tree shopping!

Fraser Fir vs Balsam Fir: Uses

fraser fir vs balsam fir

The average Balsam Fir grows much taller than the average Fraser Fir, by many feet.

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Speaking of Christmas tree shopping, you may have already guessed what both of these fir trees are commonly used for. Both the Fraser Fir and the Balsam Fir are favorites pine tree varieties for live Christmas trees, though the Fraser Fir is more widely distributed compared to the Balsam Fir. However, this doesn’t mean that the Fraser Fir is more popular, given the fact that the Balsam Fir is the most iconic Christmas tree in terms of its appearance! 

Another interesting fact about both of these trees is that their resins are used for medicinal purposes around the world. The Fraser Fir has a resin that is commonly used for scrapes and burns, while the Balsam Fir resin has antiseptic properties, making it ideal for similar purposes and a few others as well. 

Fraser Fir vs Balsam Fir: Hardiness Zones

fraser fir vs balsam fir

The Fraser Fir belongs to hardiness zones 4 through 7, while the Balsam Fir belongs to hardiness zones 3 through 6.

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While they are both popular Christmas tree varieties, both The Balsam Fir and a Fraser Fir have different hardiness zones that they belong to. This is important to note if you plan on planting and growing either of these two trees in your backyard yard or on your property. For example, the Fraser Fir belongs to hardiness zones 4 through 7, while the Balsam Fir belongs to hardiness zones 3 through 6. 

 Fraser Fir vs Balsam Fir: Locations Found and Origin

While the Fraser Fir and the Balsam Fir can grow around the world in a variety of different hardiness zones and habitats, both of these trees originated in different locations. For example, the Fraser Fir originated in the Southern United States, while the Balsam Fir is found throughout North America in a variety of locations. Either way, both of these pine tree varieties make fantastic Christmas trees or outdoor landscaping and shade options for your backyard!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © ChWeiss/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

August Croft is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on astrology, symbolism, and gardening. August has been writing a variety of content for over 4 years and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theater from Southern Oregon University, which they earned in 2014. They are currently working toward a professional certification in astrology and chart reading. A resident of Oregon, August enjoys playwriting, craft beer, and cooking seasonal recipes for their friends and high school sweetheart.

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