Landowner Fact Sheets

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balsam poplar Populus balsamifera ssp. balsamifera

Balsam poplar is a wide-ranging deciduous species of northern, transcontinental distribution. In fact, balsam poplar is the northernmost occuring of all North American hardwoods. Like other poplars, balsam poplar is fast growing, browsed by wildlife and useful for a variety of wood products.

range map Click to see more images. wood grain

Balsam poplar is intolerant of shade and fast growing, and this allows for regeneration primarily by the clearcut method.

Northern species found on moist bottomlands and stream banks.


Medium sized tree reaching up to 80 feet tall, narrow, pyramidal crown.

Timber Value
Balsam poplar is used for house logs, boxes, crates, brackets, veneer, corestock, and pulp.

Wildlife Value
A variety of animals browse balsam poplar, particularly during times of food shortage.
Attracts rodents, hares, beaver, moose, deer, elk, ruffed grouse

Insects and Diseases

Fun Facts
A rapidly growing tree. The light, soft, wood is used for crates, boxes and pulp. Grouse eat the buds, and twigs are browsed by moose and deer. Balsam poplar groves exude a cinnamon-like fragrance coinciding with springtime bud break. Balm of Gilead is made from the resinous gum.

Latin Meaning
Populus: Latin name / balsamifera ssp. balsamifera: balsam bearing

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Landowner Factsheets © 2004 Virginia Tech Forestry Department, all rights reserved. Text, images, and programming by: Dr. Jeff Kirwan, Dr. John R. Seiler, John A. Peterson, Edward C. Jensen, Guy Phillips, or Andrew S. Meeks.