Abies balsamea var. phanerolepis / Canaan fir

Abies balsamea var. phanerolepis, first described in 1909 by Merritt Lyndon Fernald (1873–1950), is commonly known as Canaan or sometimes as Bracted Balsam fir. The name 'Canaan Fir' derives from one of its native localities, the Canaan Valley in West Virginia.

Differences from the type. cones are a little smaller .75 to 2 inches (1.9 - 5 cm) than on typical Abies balsamea. Its bract-scales are ordinarily as long or longer than the fertile scales, with awns projecting. It is not a hybrid with Abies fraseri as is sometimes thought. Generally not a distinguished cultivar in either forestry or horticulture but the name (from Greek phaner (conspicuous) and lepis (scale) is useful for botanical precision. For complete description, please refer to the type record.

Attribution from: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Abies balsamea var. phanerolepis — at Cox Arboretum, Canton, Georgia.
Photo by Tom Cox



I’m trying to decide between a Norway spruce, blue spruce, and Canaan fir, which is similar to a balsam fir. The yard has four hours of good sunshine and the rest is mostly shade but some sun. The Canaan Fir/Balsam Fir is supposed to be shade tolerant. The other two are supposed to be intermediate shade tolerant.

I’m leaning toward the Canaan fir because of that, but the Canaan fir is from West Virginia with an elevation of 3,000 feet. We are at 300 feet. And the balsam fir is from the northern U.S. and Canada. Would that be a problem since the Canaan fir is used to temperatures that are about 15 degrees colder than here?

I’ve heard the blue spruce is more susceptible to diseases, but it’s also more full so could afford to lose a little bit. There are a lot of Norway spruces around here but some have lost some of their fullness.

I’m in zone 7a in Maryland. Thanks.

Maxwell Cohn

of the trees you list, the Norway spruce will have the best chance of thriving. All of the others really dislike high humidity and warm nights in the summer.