Other Common Names:
- Black poplar
- Deciduous tree up to 25m tall.
- Trunk grey when young, turning dark and furrowed. Young branches tend to have bright orange spots (?)
- Leaves are alternate and simple, 6-12cm long, oval to wedge-shaped, usually rounded at base, finely serrated (rounded teeth?)and tapering to tip. Shiny and dark green on top, paler below. Bottom of leaf often with dark resin blotches.
- Glands may be present at base of leaf.
- Petiole is hairy, 7-10cm long, round, not flattened like some other members of the Populus genus.
- Buds are very resinous, 5-scaled, slender and pointy, orange-brown, strongly aromatic, and grow to 2.5 cm long.
- Dioecious (male and female flowers on separate trees.)
- Male and female flowers are pale yellow green catkins. Male flowers are 2-3 cm long with tiers of red stamens. Female flowers are 8-20 cm long with reddish stigmas.
- The fruit is a capsule that splits into two and releases white, cottony seeds.
- Like other members of the genus, commonly reproduces via new shoots, creating stands of genetically identical trees (clonal stands.)
- Populus sp.
- Balsam poplar is differentiated from other members of Populus by leaf shape, and round petioles (all other local Populus species have flattened petioles.)
- Buds of balsam poplar are larger than other poplars, growing to 2.5cm.
- Many mammals feed on the twigs and bark, including elk, deer, bear, and beaver.
- The larvae of various butterflies feed on the leaves, including the viceroy (Limenitis archippus) butterfly
- Inner bark can be dried and used as flour or soup thickener
- Catkins are edible, raw or cooked
- Pulpwood, lumber, boxes crates, paper.
- The Latin word “balsamifera” means “balsam-bearing;” balsam being an aromatic resin.