One of the most important trees for the trailer to know is the
balsam-fir, for of this the best of outdoor beds are made. In shape the
tree is like our Christmas-trees--in fact, many Christmas-trees are
The sweet, aromatic perfume of the balsam needles is a great aid in
identifying it. The branches are flat and the needles appear to grow
from the sides of the stem. The little twist at the base
of the needle
causes it to seem to grow merely in the straight, outstanding row on
each side of the stem; look closely and you will see the twist.
The needles are flat and short, hardly one inch in length; they are
grooved along the top and the ends are decidedly blunt; in color they
are dark bluish-green on the upper side and silvery-white underneath.
The bark is gray, and you will find little gummy blisters on the
tree-trunk. From these the healing Canada balsam is obtained. The short
cones, often not over two inches in length, the longest seldom more than
four inches, stand erect on top of the small branches, and when young
are of a purplish color.
From Maine to Minnesota the balsam-fir grows in damp woods and mountain
bogs, and you will find it southward along the Alleghany Mountains from
Pennsylvania to North Carolina.