Courtesy: U.S. Forest Service, Monongahela National Forest
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- A West Virginia variety of fir is flourishing on Christmas tree farms but it's struggling in the wild.
The Canaan fir grows in West Virginia's highlands. It's called the Canaan fir because tree farmers started growing firs from ones that were first collected in the Canaan Valley.
Nature Conservancy state director Rodney Bartgis tells West Virginia Public Broadcasting (http://bit.ly/TR66iz ) that the Canaan fir is a popular Christmas tree. Its needles aren't as sharp as those of a red spruce or a Norway spruce, and aren't as long as a white pine tree's needles.
But the state's wild Canaan firs are dwindling because of an insect called the the Balsam woolly adelgid. Bartgis says the insect has killed about 80 percent of the state's wild balsam firs since the late 1980s.