Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)
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The balsamic resin ‘Balm of Gilead'[11, 46] or ‘Canada Balsam’ according to other reports[64, 226, 238] is obtained during July and August from blisters in the bark or by cutting pockets in the wood. Another report says that it is a turpentine. The term Canada Balsam is a misnomer because balsams are supposed to contain benzoic and cinnamic acids, both absent from the Canada oleoresin. Turpentine is also a misnomer, implying that the oleoresin is entirely steam volatile. Actually it contains 70 – 80% resin, only 16 – 20% volatile oil. Canada Balsam yields 15 – 25% volatile oil, the resin being used for caulking and incense. It is used medicinally and in dentistry, also in the manufacture of glues, candles and as a cement for microscopes and slides – it has a high refractive index resembling that of glass[11, 46, 64, 82, 222, 226, 238]. The pitch has also been used as a waterproofing material for the seams of canoes. The average yield is about 8 – 10 oz per tree. The resin is also a fixative in soaps and perfumery[171, 238]. “Turpentine” is usually collected during July-August by breaking the turpentine blisters into small metal cans with sharp-pointed lids. Trees are then allowed to recuperate for 1 – 2 years before being harvested again.
The leaves and young branches are used as a stuffing material for pillows etc – they impart a pleasant scent[46, 61, 257] and also repel moths.
The leaves contain an average of 0.65% essential oil, though it can go up to 1.4% or even higher. One analysis of the essential oils reports 14.6% bornyl acetate, 36.1% b-pinene, 11.1% 3-carene, 11.1% limonene, 6.8% camphene, and 8.4% a-pinene. To harvest the oil, it would appear that the branches should be snipped off younger trees in early spring. Fifteen year old trees yield 70% more leaf oil than 110-year-old trees; oil yields are highest in January – March and September, they are lowest from April to August.
A thread can be made from the roots.
Wood – light, soft, coarse grained, not strong, not very durable. Weighs 24lb per cubic foot. Used mainly for pulp, it is not used much for lumber except in the manufacture of crates etc[46, 82, 226, 229]. The wood is commercially valuable for timber even though it is relatively soft, weak, and perishable. Balsam fir is used in the US for timber and plywood, and is the mainstay of the pulp wood industry in the Northeast. The wood, which is rich in pitch, burns well and can be used as a kindling
Cultivation & Habitat
Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.
*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] , see bibliography.