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North Carolina State Christmas Tree

Fraser Fir

North Carolina State Tree: Fraser Fir

(Abies fraseri)

Adopted in 2005.

In 2005, the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation making the Fraser Fir the official Christmas tree of North Carolina.

The process started with a petition from eighth grade students at Harris Middle School in Spruce Pine, North Carolina.  They had learned that Fraser Firs were a significant part of the state's economy.  Roughly 50 million Fraser Firs, to be more specific, are grown on approximately 25,000 acres in North Carolina.  Of all of the Christmas trees grown in the state, ninety-percent are Fraser Firs. According to the NC Dept of Agriculture, in 2009 Christmas trees brought an estimated $100 million economic impact to the state of NC.

The Fraser Fir is named for Scottish botanist John Fraser, who explored the Southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina in the late-18th century. In fact, Fraser Firs are naturally only found in the Southern Appalachian region at elevations above 3,000.

Fraser Firs have the traditional Christmas, pyramid-like, tree shape; its slightly upturned branches give it a more rounded base.  Although the trees can grow up to 80 or so feet and have a trunk diameter of 1.5 feet, most harvested trees range anywhere from 7 to 10 feet tall. This height can be reached after approximately 12 years.

North Carolina State ChristmasTree: Fraser Fir

North Carolina State Tree: Fraser Fir

Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) is a species of fir native to the mountains of the eastern United States. It is closely related to balsam fir (Abies balsamea), of which it has occasionally been treated as a subspecies (as A. balsamea subsp. fraseri (Pursh) E.Murray) or a variety (as A. balsamea var. fraseri (Pursh) Spach).

The species is named after the Scottish botanist John Fraser (1750-1811), who made numerous botanical collections in the region. It is sometimes misspelled as "Frazer" or "Frazier".

In the past, it was also sometimes known as "she-balsam" because resin could be "milked" from its bark blisters, in contrast to the "he balsam" (red spruce) which could not be milked. It has also occasionally been called balsam fir, inviting confusion with A.

Characteristics of the Fraser Fir

North Carolina State Tree: Fraser Fir

Fraser fir (Abies fraseri), also called southern balsam fir and she-balsam, is a small- to medium-size tree. It is the only fir endemic to the southern Appalachian Mountains. The largest tree on record measures almost 86 cm (34 in) in d.b.h., 26.5 m (87 ft) tall, and has a crown spread of 15.8 m (52 ft). Because of the high elevation at which Fraser fir grows, its primary value is for watershed protection and scenic attraction.

Leaf: Flattened needles, 3/4 inch long, blunt or notched at the end, shiny dark green above and silvery below. Needles generally more dense than on the very similar balsam fir.
Flower: Species is monoecious; males yellow to purple; females in upper crown, inconspicuous, purple.
Fruit: Resinous cones are upright, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches long, cylindrical, green to purple, with pointed, toothed bracts protruding from the cone scales; scales are deciduous with seed dispersal in fall.
Twig: Yellow-green, later turning gray; buds round, reddish brown, resinous; leaf scars are flat and rounded.
Bark: Silvery gray-brown, smooth except for resin blisters, largest stems may become a bit scaly.
Form: Fraser fir is a small to medium size tree to 80 feet, with a very narrow, spire-like crown.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA

SESSION 2005
SESSION LAW 2005-387
HOUSE BILL 1316


AN ACT adopting the fraser fir as the official christmas tree of the state of north carolina and the southern appalachian brook trout as the official freshwater trout of north carolina.

Whereas, North Carolina has 1,500 Christmas tree growers and produces more trees than any other state except Oregon; and

Whereas, North Carolina tree growers produce over 50 million Fraser firs each year; and

Whereas, the Fraser fir constitutes more than 90% of all the Christmas trees grown in North Carolina; and

Whereas, the Fraser fir is named for John Fraser, a Scottish botanist who explored the Southern Appalachian mountains of North Carolina in the late 1700s; and

Whereas, the Fraser fir is a pyramid-shaped tree that reaches a maximum height of 80 feet and a trunk diameter of one to one and one-half feet; and

Whereas, the Fraser fir grows naturally only in the Southern Appalachians; and

Whereas, Fraser fir trees grown in North Carolina have won the National Christmas Tree Association's annual tree competition more than any other species; and

Whereas, North Carolina contains innumerable mountain streams and coldwater fisheries habitats; and

Whereas, these mountain streams are home to brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), which is North Carolina's only native freshwater trout species; and

Whereas, the Southern Appalachian form of brook trout is a scientifically-recognized unique and genetically distinct form locally known as "specks" or "speckle" trout because of the numerous specks on its skin; and

Whereas, North Carolina is home to some 400 self-sustaining populations of Southern Appalachian brook trout, more than in any other state; and

Whereas, these wild and colorful fish are important keystones of ecological diversity, indicators of outstanding water quality, and representatives of the pure and unspoiled areas that they inhabit; and

Whereas, Southern Appalachian brook trout are cooperative sport fish, and may be caught by anglers using traditional fly-fishing equipment and locally-adapted fly patterns, thereby supporting extensive recreational fishing opportunities, economic development, and tourism; and

Whereas, by their character and contribution, these unique fish are woven into the historical and cultural fabric of Western North Carolina; and

Whereas, the Fraser fir deserves recognition as the official Christmas tree of the State of North Carolina and the Southern Appalachian brook trout deserves recognition as the official freshwater trout of the State of North Carolina; Now, therefore,

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION 1. Chapter 145 of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read:

"§ 145-25. State Christmas tree.

The Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) is adopted as the official Christmas tree of the State of North Carolina."

SECTION 2. Chapter 145 of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read:

"§ 145-26. State freshwater trout.

The Southern Appalachian strain of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) is adopted as the official freshwater trout of the State of North Carolina."

SECTION 3. This act is effective when it becomes law.

In the General Assembly read three times and ratified this the 23rd day of August, 2005.

s/ Beverly E. Perdue
President of the Senate
s/ James B. Black
Speaker of the House of Representatives
s/ Michael F. Easley
Governor
Approved 3:25 p.m. this 13th day of September, 2005

North Carolina Law

The law designating the Fraser fir as the official North Carolina state Christmas tree is found in the North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 145 Section 145-25.

Chapter 145.
State Symbols and Other Official Adoptions.
SECTION 145-25

§ 145-25.  State Christmas tree.

The Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) is adopted as the official Christmas tree of the State of North Carolina. (2005-387, s. 1.)

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Fraser Fir

Kingdom Plantae - Plants
    Subkingdom Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta - Seed plants
    Division Coniferophyta - Conifers
Class Pinopsida
Order Pinales
Family Pinaceae - Pine family
Genus Abies Mill. - fir
Species Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poir. - Fraser fir

State Trees
State Trees
All of the state trees, except the Hawaii state tree, are native to the state in which they are designated.
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