Abies balsamea 'Piccolo' / Piccolo balsam fir

Abies balsamea 'Piccolo' is a tiny, uniform balsam fir cultivar with dark-green needles that radiate around its many short branches, hugging the stems. It is smaller and finer than A. balsamea 'Nana' and its branches tend to grow with a bit of a twist. This improved selection displays prominent brown buds for seasonal interest. The dense, very dwarf globe is ideal for rock gardens, containers and small landscapes. In ten years, a mature specimen will stand 12 inches (30 cm) tall and 16 inches (40 cm) wide, an annual growth rate of 1 inch (2.5 cm).

This cultivar originated as a witch's broom found in 1982 on a specimen of A. balsamea 'Nana,' found and introduced to the nursery trade by Erwin Carstens Nursery, Varel, Germany.

Abies balsamea 'Piccolo' — a mature specimen in a large arboretum setting.
Photo by Bill Barger
Abies balsamea 'Piccolo' — a closeup of foliage detail.
Photo by Bill Barger
Abies balsamea 'Piccolo' — a display of fresh spring foliage, in a garden in Norridgewock, Maine, 2012.
Photo by Wynne Keller


Mindy Schultz

Please help! I bought two Piccolo balsam firs and the needles are turning brown on the top sides. I’m in RI. They get sun for about 8-10 hours/day and water at the base of the plant every other day.
Thank you for your help
Mindy Schultz

Maxwell Cohn

Hi Mindy ... that's definitely sun-scorch. Did you plant in spring? If so, they didn't have enough time to get established before summer kicked in.

You claim to have watered every other day? Is that enough or not enough? Was the soil dry 2" below the soil's surface? Firs need well-drained soil. Are you in heavy clay?

Dorothy Brady

Hi, I am having the same type of problem with my Piccolo, the tips of the needles on the back side are turning an odd yellow peach color, they aren't dry or brittle. I planted in may this year, it appears to be healthy, it has all new growth but suddenly within a few days the tips turned color, it is planted below a bay window but only gets about 5 to 6 hours of morning sun, is it dying or sickly?