Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Abies fraseri


SPECIES: Abies fraseri
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Sullivan, Janet. 1993. Abies fraseri. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : ABIFRA SYNONYMS : Abies balsamea (L.) Mill var. fraseri Nutt. SCS PLANT CODE : ABFR COMMON NAMES : Fraser fir Fraser's fir balsam Fraser fir southern balsam fir southern fir she-balsam balsam eastern fir TAXONOMY : The accepted scientific name for Fraser fir is Abies fraseri (Pursh.) Poiret. It is a member of the family Pinaceae and is very closely related to balsam fir (A. balsamea) [16]. Fir trees in Virginia and West Virginia are intermediate between balsam fir and Fraser fir; the putative hybrid is recognized as Abies x phanerolepis (Fern.) Liu (synonymous with Abies intermedia Full.) [18,20]. LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Abies fraseri
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Fraser fir is restricted to disjunct populations at higher elevations in the southern Appalachian Mountains of southwestern Virginia, western North Carolina, and eastern Tennessee [2]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES11 Spruce - fir STATES : NC TN VA BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K097 Southeastern spruce - fir forest SAF COVER TYPES : 17 Pin cherry 30 Red spruce - yellow birch 32 Red spruce 34 Red spruce - Fraser fir SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : At the highest elevations Fraser fir forms nearly pure stands; American mountain ash (Sorbus americana) is usually its only canopy associate. At mid- and lower elevations Fraser fir occurs with eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), yellow buckeye (Aesculus octandra), and sugar maple (Acer saccharum). Mountain maple (A. spicatum), striped maple (A. pensylvanicum), and serviceberry (Amelanchier spp) are common understory associates. Shrub associates include hobblebush (Viburnum alnifolium), witherod (V. cassinoides), redberry elder (Sambucus pubens), southern mountain cranberry (Vaccinium erythrocarpum), catawba rhodendron (Rhodendron catawbiense), and smooth blackberry (Rubus canadensis) [2,21]. In red spruce-Fraser fir forests, Fraser fir typically makes up 10 to 70 percent of the relative basal area and from 20 to 90 percent of the relative density [3]. Publications that name Fraser fir as a dominant or codominant species in forest classifications include the following: Ground vegetation patterns of the spruce-fir area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park [7] Vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains [30]


SPECIES: Abies fraseri
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Its limited distribution and occurrence in inaccessible habitats renders Fraser fir of little economic importance for timber [2]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : The red squirrel eats the seeds and the terminal buds of Fraser fir [2]. PALATABILITY : Compared with other species used as ornamentals, Fraser fir is ranked low in preference for white-tailed deer [6]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : The primary value of Fraser fir is for watershed protection and scenic attraction. Fraser fir is also grown for Christmas trees and is planted as an ornamental [2]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Harvest methods that are recommended for Fraser fir include shelterwood or group selection; single tree selection may also be feasible [2]. Fraser fir is subject to windthrow [2]. Diseases and infesting agents of Fraser fir include various heart rots, root rots, and the twospotted spider mite. The worst problem, however, is the introduced balsam woolly adelgid, which weakens trees and makes them more susceptible to attack by other agents [2]. Infestation by balsam woolly adelgid was first noted in North Carolina in 1957. Extensive mortality caused by balsam woolly adelgid infestations has been noted since the 1960's; a large number of mature Fraser fir have died as a result of this infestation. Many seedlings and saplings have been killed or growth suppressed [10], although young Fraser fir have not been found to support reproducing adults (early instar stages only) [22]. Dominance of red spruce and birch (Betula spp.) increases in spruce-fir stands in North Carolina that have been damaged by this pest [8]. The continuing presence of Fraser fir in natural forests will depend on a complex of survival, growth, and new reproduction. Current seedlings will need to survive infestations, compete with a dense understory of smooth blackberry, and reach reproductive age and height. At present, seedlings are infested but appear to be overcoming the effects. Smooth blackberry reduces the early survival of Fraser fir seedlings, and decreases the number of suitable microsites for seedling establishment [22]. In some areas high levels of fir recruitment occur after balsam woolly adelgid infestations [8]. Nitrogen fertilizers may enhance cone production. One study determined that although nitrogen does appear to increase cone production, it is usually not the limiting nutrient; phosphorus and magnesium are the most limiting to cone yield [1].


SPECIES: Abies fraseri
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Fraser fir is a native, evergreen coniferous tree. It is small to medium sized; the largest on record is 87 feet (26.5 m) tall and 34 inches (86 cm) d.b.h. The usual range is from 50 to 60 feet (15-18 m) tall and less than 12 inches (30 cm) d.b.h. Average age at death is 150 years [2]. Fraser fir is very shallow rooted [2]. The bark is nearly smooth, with blisters containing an oleoresin; the bark becomes more scaly on older trunks. Pollen cones are usually less than 0.4 inch (1 cm) in length, ovulate cones are 1.6 to 2.2 inches (4-5.5 cm) long [23]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sexual reproduction: Seed production in Fraser fir begins at about 15 years of age. Good seed crops are produced every other year, with light crops in intervening years. Seeds are wind dispersed, with 50 percent falling at least 900 feet (274 m) from the source; seeds can be carried up to 1 mile (1.6 km) from the source [2]. Seed germination is good on mineral soil, moss, peat, and litter. Decaying stumps and logs have higher than average rates of seedling establishment and appear to be the best substrates for germination [2,7,22]. Germination on surface litter usually results in seedling mortality due to drought. Stratification does not enhance germination rates [2]. Seed longevity in the soil is unknown; viability may decrease after only 1 year of artificial storage [22]. Natural reforestation is limited where harvesting or fire has opened canopies and increased the rate of desiccation of the moss and peat layer [2]. Asexual reproduction: Fraser fir sometimes reproduces by layering when lower branches come into contact with moist soil. This is not an important reproductive mechanism [2]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Fraser fir occurs in a cool-temperate, rain-forest climate with a well-distributed mean annual precipitation ranging from 75 to 100 inches (1,900-2,540 mm). Fog is present for 65 percent or more of the growing season, actual moisture levels are therefore higher than measured precipitation indicates [2]. Fraser fir occurs on soils with a wide variation in color, depth, and amount of organic matter; they are usually shallow and rocky, and bedrock is within 20 to 32 inches of the mineral soil [2]. At upper elevations where dense and stagnant stands have formed, soils are usually podsolic and highly acidic. In a spruce-fir forest at 6,500 feet (1,980 m) in elevation, soil pH was 3.6 at the surface and 3.8 6 inches (15 cm) below the surface [4]. Fraser fir generally occurs at elevations ranging from 5,500 feet (1,676 m) to 6,684 feet (2,037 m). It may occur as low as 4,500 feet (1,372 m) on north slopes and protected coves. At lower elevations, Fraser fir is a minor component in spruce-fir forests; it increases in frequency with altitude [2,3,5]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Obligate Climax Species Once established, Fraser fir seedlings grow best in full light. Fraser fir is, however, very shade tolerant and can grow under dense canopies in a suppressed state for many years. Under these conditions, Fraser fir may only be 2 to 3 feet (0.6-0.9 m) in height after 20 years of growth. In full sun, Fraser fir can be 8.2 feet (2.5 m) after 11 years. When released after years of suppression, growth of Fraser fir can be very rapid [2]. Fraser fir often forms dense, stagnant pole-sized stands at higher elevations [4]. In the red spruce-Fraser fir forests of the southern Appalachians, windfalls that create small gaps (less than [200 sq m]) are the most important and widely distributed disturbance, with a return interval of 111 to 178 years [7,29]. Gap capture is largely dependent on advance reproduction; Fraser fir seedling and sapling densities are higher in gaps than in the understory. There is a probable reciprocal replacement between red spruce and Fraser fir [29]. Similarly, in a study of the dynamics of tree replacement in red spruce-Fraser fir forests, saplings of Fraser fir were more numerous than those of red spruce, and were found in higher densities under red spruce trees [13]. Both species require multiple release events in order to reach the canopy [29]. Fraser fir was found in late seral to climax communities developed during primary succession on rocky slopes [7]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Fraser fir cones open in mid-May to early June. Cones ripen from September to mid-October, and seed dispersal follows maturation [2]. Reproductive bud differentiation coincides with rapid vegetative growth and cone development [1].


SPECIES: Abies fraseri
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Fraser fir occurs in habitats that are rarely subject to wildfire. Anecdotal evidence suggests that forest fires often stop when they reach the spruce-fir forest boundary [26]. In the southern Appalachians, fuel moistures and humidity are usually high, and therefore fires are not intense or widespread [26,29]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Tree without adventitious-bud root crown Secondary colonizer - off-site seed


SPECIES: Abies fraseri
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Fraser fir is probably easily killed by fire [9]. No specific information on the intensity of fire needed to kill Fraser fir is available. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : In 1955, an escaped campfire burned approximately one acre of red spruce-Fraser fir forest in the Plott Balsam Mountains of western North Carolina. The community was sampled in the early 1980's and was found to have a tree layer similar in composition to that of postharvest, second-growth spruce-fir stands that have been recovering for 30 to 50 years. Density and basal area of trees were lower than in the postharvest communities. Fraser fir was of greater importance than red spruce. Pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica) was of greater importance in the postfire community than expected, contributing to a reduced amount of reproduction. The reproduction layer was dominated by Fraser fir and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), indicating that the site had not yet fully recovered. Other plant species were found to differ from those that typically occur in logged or logged and burned red spruce-Fraser fir forests. Return to a closed-canopy Fraser fir-red spruce-yellow birch forest is estimated to require many more decades. The authors speculated that severe fires on steep rocky sites followed by poor regeneration may be instrumental in the formation of shrubby heath balds [26]. The most common, immediate postfire invaders in red spruce-Fraser fir forests are pin cherry, American mountain-ash, and yellow birch. Hobblebush and smooth blackberry can form very dense patches after fire disturbance. In a red spruce-Fraser fir postfire community in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, yellow birch and pin cherry were still dominant after 30 years. Fraser fir and red spruce were slow to establish, and were represented by a few scattered 5- to 10-foot tall (1.5-3 m) individuals [7]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Abies fraseri
REFERENCES : 1. Arnold, Roger J.; Jett, J. B.; Allen, H. L. 1992. Identification of nutritional influences on cone production in Fraser fir. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 56(2): 586-591. [18706] 2. Beck, Donald E. 1990. Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poir. Fraser fir. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 47-51. [13367] 3. Busing, Richard T.; Clebsch, Edward E. C.; Eagar, Christopher C.; Pauley, Eric F. 1988. Two decades of change in a Great Smoky Mountains spruce-fir forest. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 115(1): 25-31. [4491] 4. Cain, Stanley A. 1931. Ecological studies of the vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. Botanical Gazette. 91: 22-41. [10340] 5. Cogbill, C. V.; White, P. S. 1991. The latitude-elevation relationship for spruce-fir forest and treeline along the Appalachian mountain chain. Vegetatio. 94(2): 153-175. [16806] 6. Conover, M. R.; Kania, G. S. 1988. Browsing preference of white-tailed deer for different ornamental species. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 16: 175-179. [8933] 7. Crandall, Dorothy L. 1958. Ground vegetation patterns of the spruce-fir area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Ecological Monographs. 28(4): 337-360. [11226] 8. DeSelm, H. R.; Boner, R. R. 1984. Understory changes in spruce-fir during the first 16-20 years following the death of fir. In: White, Peter S., ed. Southern Appalachian spruce-fir ecosystem: its biology and threats. Research/Resources Management Report SER-71. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Southeast Region: 51-69. [21927] 9. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p. [12764] 10. Eagar, Christopher. 1984. Review of the biology and ecology of the balsam woolly aphid in southern Appalachian spruce-fir forests. In: White, Peter S., ed. Southern Appalachian spruce-fir ecosystem: its biology and threats. Research/Resources Management Report SER-71. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Southeast Region: 36-50. [21926] 11. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 12. Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. [Corrections supplied by R. C. Rollins]. Portland, OR: Dioscorides Press. 1632 p. (Dudley, Theodore R., gen. ed.; Biosystematics, Floristic & Phylogeny Series; vol. 2). [14935] 13. Fox, John F. 1977. Alternation and coexistence of tree species. American Naturalist. 111(977): 69-89. [212] 14. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998] 15. Harmon, Mark E. 1981. Fire history of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park--1940 to 1979. Research/Resources Management Report No. 46. Gatlinburg, TN: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Southeast Region, Great Smoky MountainsNational Park. 39 p. [20779] 16. Jacobs, Brian F.; Werth, Charles R.; Guttman, Sheldon I. 1984. Genetic relationships in Abies (fir) of eastern United States: an electrophoretic study. Canadian Journal of Botany. 62: 609-616. [21399] 17. Kartesz, John T.; Kartesz, Rosemarie. 1980. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. Volume II: The biota of North America. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press; in confederation with Anne H. Lindsey and C. Richie Bell, North Carolina Botanical Garden. 500 p. [6954] 18. Klaehn, F. U.; Winieski, J. A. 1962. Interspecific hybridization in the genus Abies. Silvae Genetica. 11: 130-142. [13494] 19. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384] 20. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p. [2952] 21. Oosting, H. J.; Billings, W. D. 1951. A comparison of virgin spruce-fir forest in the northern and southern Appalachian system. Ecology. 32(1): 84-103. [11236] 22. Pauley, Eric F. 1989. Regeneration patterns of Fraser fir on Mt. Collins, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In: Wood, James D., Jr., compiler. Abstracts, 15th annual scientific research meeting, 1989 May 25-26; Gatlinburg, TN. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Southeast Regional Office: 6. Abstract. [15207] 23. Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. 1183 p. [7606] 24. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 25. Robinson, John F.; Thor, Eyvind. 1969. Natural variation in Abies of the southern Appalachians. Forest Science. 15(3): 238-245. [21398] 26. Saunders, Paul R.; Smathers, Garrett A.; Ramseur, George S. 1983. Secondary succession of a spruce-fir burn in the Plott Balsam Mountains, North Carolina. Castanea. 48(1): 41-47. [8658] 27. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090] 28. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573] 29. White, Peter S.; MacKenzie, Mark D.; Busing, Richard T. 1985. Natural disturbance and gap phase dynamics in southern Appalachian spruce-fir forests. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 15: 233-240. [9294] 30. Whittaker, R. H. 1956. Vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains. Ecological Monographs. 26(1): 1-79. [11108] 31. Reiners, William A,; Lang, Gerald E. 1979. Vegetational patterns and processes in the balsam fir zone, White Mountains, New Hampshire. Ecology. 60(2): 403-417. [14869] 32. Ramseur, George S. 1960. The vascular flora of high mountain communities of the southern Appalachians. 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