Name: Balsam Fir
Biological Name: Abies balsamea
Family: Pine Family, Pinaceae
Other Names: Balsam Fir, Balsam of Gilead Fir, Fir Balsam, Fir Pine, Sapin, Silver Fir, Silver Pine
Parts Used: All parts are used.
Balsam fir was used by American Indians for medicinal purposes. Almost every part of the tree had some medicinal use. The aromatic resin served them as a salve for cuts, sores, and burns. They had taken it internally for colds, coughs, and asthma. The inner bark, brewed into a tea, served as a remedy for chest pains. The twigs acted as a laxative, when steeped in water. Bits of the roots were held in the mouth for mouth sores. The needles were used for sweat baths. The inhaled vapor was believed to clear up congestion of cold and coughs.
The resin from the balsam fir is used as a source of turpentine and as an adhesive for microscope slides and optical lenses.
Balsam fir is an evergreen tree growing 40 - 80 feet tall. It has dark, shiny green, flattened needles. The needles look as if it was arranged in two rows. It flowers around May-June. There are separate male and female flowers. When young, the bark is smooth and greyish and is covered with resin blisters. As the tree matures, these resin blisters crack into sacly plates.