Balsam poplar

Silhouette - balsam poplar
  • Latin name: Populus balsamifera L.
  • French name: Peuplier baumier
  • Synonym(s): Eastern balsam poplar
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 22453
Description

Leaves

  • Leaf with detail of glands at leaf base - balsam poplar

Form

  • Broadly ovate, tip long drawn-out
  • Base usually rounded, sometimes wedge-shaped or slightly heart-shaped
  • Warty glands may be present at the base
  • Lower surface mostly hairless

Length

  • 7–12 cm

Colour

  • Upper surface dark green
  • Lower surface silvery green, usually stained with brownish resin blotches

Margin

  • Finely toothed with many short, rounded teeth that turn inward at their tips (margin sometimes partially smooth)

Petiole

  • Hairy
  • Round in cross-section
  • 7–10 cm long
  • Green

Buds

  • Lateral bud and leaf scar - balsam poplar

Form

  • Terminal bud round or slightly angled
  • Slender, long-pointed
  • Very resinous, fragrant
  • 5 scales
  • Lateral leaf buds parallel to the twig
  • Pollen flower buds stout with thickened scales
  • Leaf scars small, triangular

Length

  • Up to 25 mm

Colour

  • Orange-brown

Margin

  • Hairless

Twigs

  • Winter twig - balsam poplar

Form

  • Moderately stout, hairy
  • Round to slightly angular in cross-section
  • Lenticels large, sparse

Colour

  • Bright reddish-brown, with age becoming dark orange then grey

Flowers

Length

  • Pollen catkins 7–10 cm
  • Seed catkins 6–8 cm

Structure

  • Dioecious

Fruits

  • Fruit capsule - balsam poplar
  • Fruit capsule scales; outer surface (left,) inner surface (right) - balsam poplar

Form

  • Mature seed catkins bearing many closely spaced capsules
  • Capsules ovoid, tip short
  • Hairless
  • Splitting into 2 parts when mature

Length

  • Mature seed catkins 10–13 cm
  • Capsules 6–7 mm
  • Seeds 2 mm

Bark

Form

  • Smooth when young, with age separating into flat-topped ridges with irregular V-shaped furrows

Colour

  • Greenish-brown when young becoming grey

Size

Height

  • To 25 m

Diameter

  • To 50 cm

Maximum age

  • 70 years

Tree form

  • Silhouette - balsam poplar

Forest-grown

Trunk

  • Long, straight

Crown

  • Narrow, somewhat columnar
  • Open, with a few stout ascending branches

Root system

  • Wide-spreading, with a few large roots, penetrating obliquely
    to the water table or a layer of hardened soil

Habitat

Site

  • River valleys
  • Moist, rich, low-lying ground
  • Frequently planted in rural areas for shelterbelts and windbreaks

Associated species

  • In pure stands or mixed with alders, willows, balsam fir, black spruce, white spruce, white birch, and other boreal species
Insects and diseases

Insects and diseases that are found most frequently and/or that cause the most damage in our Canadian forests.

Photos
  • Balsam poplar
  • Balsam poplar
  • Balsam poplar
  • Balsam poplar
  • Balsam poplar
  • Balsam poplar
  • Balsam poplar
Distribution map
Distribution map - balsam poplar
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