Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poiret. Section: Balsamea. Phen: May-Jun; Sep-Nov. Hab: High elevation forests, from about 1500-2037 m. Dist: Southern Appalachian endemic, from Grayson and Smyth counties, VA (notably, Mount Rogers) south to e. TN and sw. NC; naturalizing on Brasstown Bald in GA, and on Black Mountain (Pocahontas County, WV), where planted.
Origin/Endemic status: Endemic
Other Comments: This species is threatened as a native species by a virulent alien pest, the balsam woolly adelgid, and environmental damage caused by pollution. Populations on Mt. Rogers and, to a lesser extent, Roan and Grandfather mountains, appear to be relatively healthy. A. fraseri is closely related to the northern Balsam Fir, A. balsamea, and may be a relatively recent derivative of it. During the 1970's and 1980's, the cultivation of Fraser Fir Christmas trees became an important part of the economy of the North Carolina mountains (especially Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, and Watauga counties). Most Christmas tree plantations are at 1000-1500 m in elevation; below 1000 m, Fraser Fir is very susceptible to a fungal root rot (Phytophthora), above 1500 m it grows too slowly to be profitable and is often "flagged" by winds, ruining its shape for commercial purposes.
Synonymy: = C, F, FNA2, G, K1, K3, K4, RAB, S, S13, Tn, Va, W, WV, Liu (1971), Price (1989); = Abies balsamea (L.) Mill. var. fraseri (Pursh) Spach