Balsam Poplar Populus balsamifera L.


The balsam poplars are indigenous to North America and Asia. The one most commonly cultivated in Europe is Populus balsamifera L., a native of North America, where it grows on alluvial bottomlands in the northern United States and in Canada. The name is derived from the pleasant balsam smell of the opening buds and leaves. It grows to a height of 30 metres and has yellow-grey bark, thick and furrowed, and coloured blackish at the base of the trunk. The twigs are yellow-brown to brown, the buds covered with a layer of balsam resin. The flowers and fruit are very much like those of the white poplar. The balsam poplar is a light-demanding tree that requires considerable moisture. In Europe it is cultivated mainly in parks for its ornamental, light-coloured bark and pleasant scent in spring. Planted occasionally in hill country is the western balsam poplar {Populus trichocarpa Torr. Et Grey), a native of western North America. A northern Chinese poplar (Populus sirnonii Carr.), a native of China and Manchuria, is more frequently planted as a street and shade tree in European cities. It is an attractive ornamental, with whitish bark, and nearly rhombic, 6 to 10 cm long leaves, which appear on the tree in early spring.

Leaves: Ovate, with rounded base, whitish green blotches on the undcrsurfacc, 5—12 cm long. Flowers: Male and female catkins 8—12 cm long.

Fruit: Capsules loosely arranged in spikes 12 cm long.