Balsam Poplar

Populus balsamifera

Balsam Poplar

APPEARANCE

Balsam poplars can be up to 30 metres tall and they have grey, wrinkled bark that becomes smooth and yellow-white near the top and catkin flowers.

RANGE & HABITAT

These trees often grow on the eastern slopes of hillsides in moist soils near rivers or floodplains, but they can also grow in rocky soils. You can find them from coast to coast across the northern part of North America.

LIFE CYCLE

In July, they send out cottony seeds, which is why they are also called ‘cottonwood’ trees.

ANIMAL USES

Bees use the sticky and fragrant resin from its buds to make propolis (a sticky substance they use to seal up any cracks in their hives). Balsam poplars actually produce a chemical that deters snowshoe hares from eating the twigs and young trees!

TRADITIONAL FIRST NATIONS USES

Some First Nations people boiled the bark and applied it to wounds or fed it to children to treat for worms. Other parts of the tree were also used to make glue, canoes, rope and soap

MODERN USES

Today, we harvest the wood for lumber and log houses and the resin for use in ointments.

STATUS

COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

MORE INFORMATION

www.bcadventure.com

Photo: Adam Jones