balsam poplar Salicaceae Populus
balsamifera ssp. balsamifera L. symbol: POBAB2
Leaf: Alternate, simple, ovate, finely serrated, 3 to 6 inches long, shiny dark green, paler and often blotchy orange below, petiole long with glands at the leaf base.
Flower: Species is dioecious; male and female as hanging, long (several inches), pale yellow-green catkins; appearing in early spring.
Fruit: Small, 2-valved, dry capsule containing numerous small seeds.
Twig: Moderately stout, round, shiny reddish brown, orange lenticels, buds are reddish brown to brown, long (1 inch), curved, resinous and fragrant. Twig has a bitter aspirin taste.
Bark: Greenish gray with lighter lenticels when young, later becoming darker and furrowed with long, scaly ridges.
Form: Medium sized tree reaching up to 80 feet tall, narrow, pyramidal crown.
Looks like: black cottonwood - eastern cottonwood - narrowleaf cottonwood - bigtooth aspen
Additional Range Information: Populus balsamifera ssp. balsamifera is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting balsam poplar.
More Information: Wood - Landowner Factsheet
External Links: USDAFS Silvics of North America - USDAFS Additional Silvics - USDA Plants Database - USDAFS Forest Products Lab
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson