North woods – land of spruce and fir

The dark green carpet across Canada, Alaska, Siberia, Russia and Scandinavia is the world’s vast boreal forest. In Canada the Balsam Fir (Abies balsameae) dominates the spruce-fir landscape in southeastern Canada and northeastern United States. Balsam Fir has a unique arrowhead symmetry, while it seldom reaches more than 20 m in height. The brittle, soft wood from this coniferous tree is mostly used for pulping.

The sturdy conifers are well defended against winds and cold weather and make modest demands upon the nutrient poor boreal soils. The conifers can withstand winds, frost and snow and capture in on the short growing season of the northern hemisphere. While Balsam Fir dominates the North American boreal landscape, other conifers that are able to withstand the adverse northern conditions include Norway Spruce (Picea abies), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), Siberian Fir (Abies sibirica), and White Spruce (Picea glauca). Siberian Fir is the most widespread of all firs, ranging across Russia, Siberia, and China. It grows taller than its North American relative, the Balsam Fir, reaching height of around 30 m.

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