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Populus balsamifera L.
Populus tacamahacca Mill; Balsam poplar; Black Cottonwood

Life   Plantae   Dicotyledoneae   Salicaceae   Populus

Populus balsamifera
© Copyright Mel Harte 2010 · 3
Populus balsamifera

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Populus balsamifera
© Copyright Mel Harte 2010 · 3
Populus balsamifera
Populus balsamifera
© Copyright Mel Harte 2010 · 3
Populus balsamifera

Populus balsamifera
© Copyright Mel Harte 2010 · 3
Populus balsamifera

Associates · map
FamilyScientific name @ source (records)
Aphelinidae  Aphelinus @ UCRC_ENT (1)
Aphididae  Aphis ( @ CSUC_TCN (7)

Chaitophorus neglectus @ CSUC_TCN (6); NCSU_ENT (1)

Chaitophorus populicola @ NCSU_ENT (25); AMNH_PBI (6); CSUC_TCN (4)

Chaitophorus populifoliae @ AMNH_PBI (1)

Chaitophorus populifolii @ AMNH_PBI (1); NCSU_ENT (2)

Chaitophorus viminalis @ CSUC_TCN (1)

Mordwilkoja vagabunda @ NCSU (6)

Pemphigus longicornus @ NCSU (4)

Pemphigus monophagus @ AMNH_PBI (1)

Pterocomma bicolor @ CSUC_TCN (3); NCSU (6)

Pterocomma populeum @ CSUC_TCN (1)

Pterocomma populifoliae @ AMNH_PBI (2); CSUC_TCN (5)

Thecabius ( @ NCSU (56)
Bertiaceae  Bertia moriformis @ BPI (2)
Botryosphaeriaceae  Phyllosticta alcides @ BPI (1)

Phyllosticta brunnea @ BPI (1)

Phyllosticta populina @ BPI (2)

Phyllosticta @ BPI (1)
Cicadellidae  Idiocerus ( @ UKYL_TCN (29)

Kybos angustifoliae @ III (1)

Kybos carsona @ III (2)

Kybos fontana @ III (2)
Corticiaceae  Corticium galactinum @ BPI (1)

Corticium pezizoideum @ BPI (1)

Dendrothele microspora @ BPI (1)
Coryneliaceae  Caliciopsis calicioides @ BPI (1)
Cucurbitariaceae  Cucurbitaria staphula @ BPI (2)
Dermateaceae  Cylindrosporium oculatum @ BPI (2)

Gloeosporium cytosporeum @ BPI (1)

Gloeosporium @ BPI (1)

Marssonina castagnei @ BPI (2)

Marssonina populi-nigrae @ BPI (1)

Marssonina populi @ BPI (7)
Diatrypaceae  Cryptosphaeria populina @ BPI (2)

Eutypa sparsa @ BPI (1)

Eutypella radula @ BPI (2)
Didymosphaeriaceae  Didymosphaeria populina @ BPI (1)
Erysiphaceae  Uncinula adunca @ BPI (13)

Uncinula salicis @ BPI (42); 875892A (1)
Exidiaceae  Eichleriella spinulosa @ BPI (1)
Gnomoniaceae  Linospora tetraspora @ BPI (6)

Ophiognomonia balsamiferae @ BPI (1)
Helotiaceae  Cenangium populneum @ BPI (1)
Hericiaceae  Hericium coralloides @ BPI (1)

Mucronella aggregata @ BPI (1)
Hydnaceae  Hydnum coralloides @ BPI (1)
Hymenochaetaceae  Hymenochaete tabacina @ BPI (2)
Hypocreaceae  Hypomyces aurantius @ BPI (1)
Hysteriaceae  Hysterographium mori @ BPI (1)
Melampsoraceae  Melampsora abietis-canadensis @ BPI (7)

Melampsora albertensis @ BPI (13)

Melampsora cylindrica @ BPI (1)

Melampsora laricis-populina @ BPI (13)

Melampsora medusae @ BPI (41)

Melampsora occidentalis @ BPI (14)

Melampsora populina @ BPI (30)

Melampsora populnea @ BPI (1)
Meruliaceae  Phlebia cinnabarina @ BPI (1)

Phlebia merismoides @ BPI (1)
Mycosphaerellaceae  Mycosphaerella populifolia @ BPI (1)

Mycosphaerella populorum @ BPI (2)

Septoria musiva @ BPI (9)

Septoria populi @ BPI (5)

Septoria populicola @ BPI (15)

Septoria @ BPI (3)
Polyporaceae  Datronia stereoides @ BPI (1)

Favolus canadensis @ BPI (1)

Fomes annosus @ BPI (1)

Fomes applanatus @ BPI (2)

Fomes connatus @ BPI (1)

Fomes everhartii @ BPI (1)

Fomes fomentarius @ BPI (1)

Fomes igniarius @ BPI (4)

Fomes pinicola @ BPI (2)

Fomes populinus @ BPI (1)

Hirschioporus pargamenus @ BPI (1)

Lenzites trabea @ BPI (1)

Polyporus adustus @ BPI (3)

Polyporus cinnabarinus @ BPI (1)

Polyporus glomeratus @ BPI (1)

Poria pannocincta @ BPI (1)

Poria similis @ BPI (2)

Trametes suaveolens @ BPI (1)

Trametes trogii @ BPI (1)
Schizophyllaceae  Schizophyllum commune @ BPI (1)
Schizoporaceae  Oxyporus similis @ BPI (1)
Sclerotiniaceae  Ciborinia whetzelii @ BPI (2)

Septotinia populiperda @ BPI (2)
Sebacinaceae  Sebacina adusta @ BPI (1)
Sistotremataceae  Sistotrema raduloides @ BPI (1)
Steccherinaceae  Odontia arguta @ BPI (1)

Odontia bugellensis @ BPI (1)

Odontia ciliolata @ BPI (1)
Stereaceae  Stereum rufum @ BPI (1)

Stereum versiforme @ BPI (1)
Taphrinaceae  Taphrina aurea @ BPI (1)

Taphrina populina @ BPI (3)
Valsaceae  Cytospora chrysosperma @ BPI (5)

Cytospora leucosperma @ BPI (2)

Cytospora nivea @ BPI (4)

Cytospora @ BPI (2)

Valsa nivea @ BPI (3)

Valsa sordida @ BPI (1)
Venturiaceae  Fusicladium radiosum @ BPI (4)

Pollaccia elegans @ BPI (2)

Venturia @ BPI (1)
_  Porothelium fimbriatum @ BPI (2)

Sporidesmium cladosporii @ BPI (1)

Valsaria exasperans @ BPI (1)

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Populus balsamifera L.
balsam poplar

Image of Populus balsamifera

General Information
Symbol: POBA2
Group: Dicot
Family: Salicaceae
Duration: Perennial
Growth Habit : Tree
Native Status : AK   N
L48   N
Data Source and Documentation
About our new maps
Plants-NRCS Logos
green round image for nativity Native blue round image for introduced Introduced ocre round image for introduced and nativity Both white round image for no status Absent/Unreported
image for native, but no county data Native, No County Data image for introduced, but no county data Introduced, No County Data both introduced and native, but no county data Both, No County Data
Native Status:
lower 48 status L48    Alaska status AK    Hawaii status HI    Puerto Rico status PR    Virgin Islands status VI    Navassa Island NAV    Canada status CAN    Greenland status GL    Saint Pierre and Michelon status SPM    North America NA   


click on a thumbnail to view an image, or see all the Populus thumbnails at the Plants Gallery

Lynden Gerdes. USDA NRCS. 1995. Northeast wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species . Northeast National Technical Center, Chester. Provided by USDA NRCS Wetland Science Institute (WSI). Usage Requirements .

W.D. Brush. Provided by National Agricultural Library . Originally from USDA Forest Service . United States, FL. 1955. Usage Requirements .

W.D. Brush. Provided by National Agricultural Library . Originally from USDA Forest Service . United States, ME. Usage Requirements .

W.D. Brush. Provided by National Agricultural Library . Originally from USDA Forest Service . United States, ME. Usage Requirements .

W.D. Brush. Provided by National Agricultural Library . Originally from USDA Forest Service . United States, ME. Usage Requirements .

W.D. Brush. Provided by National Agricultural Library . Originally from USDA Forest Service . United States, ME. Usage Requirements .

W.D. Brush. Provided by National Agricultural Library . Originally from USDA Forest Service . United States, ME. 1960. Usage Requirements .

Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 1: 588. Provided by Kentucky Native Plant Society . Scanned by Omnitek Inc . Usage Requirements .

USDA NRCS. Wetland flora: Field office illustrated guide to plant species. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Provided by NRCS National Wetland Team . Usage Requirements .




Click on a scientific name below to expand it in the PLANTS Classification Report.
Rank Scientific Name and Common Name
Kingdom Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass Dilleniidae
Order Salicales
Family Salicaceae – Willow family
Genus Populus L. – cottonwood
Species Populus balsamifera L. – balsam poplar

Subordinate Taxa

The Plants Database includes the following 2 subspecies of Populus balsamifera . Click below on a thumbnail map or name for subspecies profiles. Plant is native (blue) Native Plant is introduced Introduced Plant is introduced Native and Introduced Related taxa legend Distribution of <i>
Populus balsamifera</i>
L. ssp. <i>
balsamifera </i>
Populus balsamifera ssp. balsamifera
balsam poplar Distribution of <i>
Populus balsamifera</i>
L. ssp. <i>
(Torr. & A. Gray ex Hook.) Brayshaw
Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa
black cottonwood

Legal Status

Threatened and Endangered Information:
This plant is listed by the U.S. federal government or a state. Common names are from state and federal lists. Click on a place name to get a complete protected plant list for that location.
Illinois balsam poplar Endangered
Indiana balsam poplar Extirpated
Ohio balsam poplar Endangered
Pennsylvania balsam poplar Endangered

Wetland Status

Interpreting Wetland Status

North America
Alaska FACU
Arid West FAC
Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain FACW
Eastern Mountains and Piedmont FACW
Great Plains FACW
Midwest FACW
Northcentral & Northeast FACW
Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast FAC

Related Links

More Accounts and Images
ARS Germplasm Resources Information Network (POBA2)
CalPhotos (POBA2)
Integrated Taxonomic Information System (POBA2)
Jepson Interchange (University of California - Berkeley) (POBA2)
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Information Network (POBA2)
Native American Ethnobotany (University of Michigan - Dearborn) (POBA2)
USDA Forest Service Fire Effects Information System (POBA2)
Related Websites
USDA Forest Service-Silvics of North America (POBA2)



Source Large Mammals Small Mammals Water Birds Terrestrial Birds
Quinlan Minor Minor Low


Source Large Mammals Small Mammals Water Birds Terrestrial Birds
Quinlan Moderate


Quinlan, S.E., and S. Cuccarese. 2004. Native Alaskan and exotic plants used by wildlife . Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Anchorage.

Description of Values

Value Class Food Cover
High Average 25-50% of diet Regular source of cover
Low 5-10% of diet Infrequently used as cover
Minor 2-5% of diet Sparsely used as cover
Moderate Average 10-25% of diet Occasional source of cover

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Following modified from Flora of North America
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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 7 | Salicaceae | Populus

3. Populus balsamifera Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 1034. 1753.

Balsam poplar, hackmatack, bam tree, tacamahaca, baumier

Populus balsamifera var . subcordata Hylander; P. candicans Aiton; P. tacamahacca Miller

Plants to 40 m, 21 dm diam.; weakly heterophyllous. Bark reddish gray, furrowed. Branchlets reddish brown, becoming grayish brown by third year, round, 1.5-3.5(-5) mm diam., coarse, glabrous or glabrate to densely hairy. Winter buds reddish, glabrous, resinous (resin red, abundant, very fragrant, balsamic); terminal buds (8-)12-16(-20) mm; flowering buds clustered distally on branchlets, 15-19 mm. Leaves : petiole cylindrical or distally slightly flattened in plane of blade, (0.2-) 1.5-5 cm, 1/3-1/2 blade length (usually glabrous); blade usually narrowly ovate to ovate, rarely broadly ovate, (2.5-)5-9(-15) × (0.7-)3-5.5(-9) cm, w/l = 1/2-2/3, base rounded to broadly cuneate or subcordate, basilaminar glands 0 or 2(-5), round, margins not translucent, not ciliate, apex obtuse to acute, abaxial surface often with reddish orange resin stains, glaucous, (veins prominent), adaxial dark green, glabrous; preformed blade margins subentire to very finely, evenly crenate-serrate throughout, teeth (9-)20-35(-45) on each side, sinuses 0.1-0.4 mm deep; neoformed blade margins finely crenate-serrate throughout, teeth (20-)30-45 (-60) on each side, sinuses 0.2-0.6 mm deep. Catkins moderately loosely (35-)50-70(-80)-flowered, 7.5-15(-18 in fruit) cm; floral bract apex deeply cut, not ciliate. Pedicels 0.5-2(-3.5 in fruit) mm. Flowers: discs shallowly cup-shaped, not obviously oblique, entire, 2-3(-4) mm diam.; stamens 20-30; anthers truncate; ovary 2-carpelled, ovoid to spherical; stigmas 2-4, platelike, expanded, reflexed. Capsules ovoid, (3-) 5-8 mm, glabrous, 2-valved. Seeds 15-22 per placenta. 2 n = 38.

Flowering Mar-Jun; fruiting May-Jul. Open, rich, low woods, cool, seasonally wet soils, bog margins in boreal forests, aspen parklands, montane streamsides, rocky slopes, gallery forests within tundra; 0-2900 (-3700) m; St. Pierre and Miquelon; Alta., B.C., Man., N.B., Nfld. and Labr. (Nfld.), N.W.T., N.S., Nunavut, Ont., P.E.I., Que., Sask., Yukon; Alaska, Colo., Conn., Del., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Maine, Mass., Mich., Minn., Mont., N.H., N.Y., N.Dak., Ohio, Pa., S.Dak., Vt., W.Va., Wis., Wyo.

Populus balsamifera has been reported in error from Nebraska based on incorrectly localized specimens and from Idaho, Oregon, and Utah based on vegetative specimens of P. trichocarpa or intergrades. The two species can be difficult to separate vegetatively, particularly in their region of overlap and hybridization along the northern Cordilleran axis from southern Alaska to northwestern Wyoming. Their hybrids, named P. × hastata Dode, have intermediate leaf shapes and also differ from P. balsamifera in having capsules with 2-4 sparsely hairy or glabrous valves (T. C. Brayshaw 1965). Populus balsamifera also hybridizes and intergrades with another native species of sect. Tacamahaca, P. angustifolia , to form P. × brayshawii B. Boivin where the margins of their ranges overlap (Brayshaw 1965b). Populus × brayshawii is intermediate in some respects between its parents. It is most similar to P. angustifolia ; it differs in longer petioles and darker twigs, characteristics in which it approaches P. balsamifera . Some trees of P. balsamifera from North Dakota (Bottineau and Divide counties) also seem to show an influence of P. angustifolia , although they are far from the present range of the latter species.

Populus × jackii Sargent (synonyms P. × andrewsii Sargent, P. × bernardii B. Boivin, P . × dutillyi Lepage, and P . × gileadensis Rouleau) is an intersectional hybrid with P. deltoides (sect. Aigeiros ) and is moderately common in riparian and other wet habitats throughout the broad range of overlap between these two species (Alberta, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Manitoba, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Ontario, Quebec, Pennsylvania, Saskatchewan, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wisconsin) (W. G. Ronald et al. 1973; J. E. Eckenwalder 1984). A pistillate clone that probably arose from this hybrid by segregation or backcrossing ('Balm-of-Gilead') has been widely cultivated since at least the eighteenth century for its bud resin, used in treating coughs (E. Rouleau 1948). Capsules rarely, if ever, mature and trees do not appear to produce fertile seed, but persist and spread by root sprouts in waste places and at edges of woods. It is cultivated mostly in southeastern Canada and eastern United States to the Great Plains, chiefly in mountains in southeastern United States. This clone is more balsam poplarlike than first generation hybrids and has differences from wild hybrids in North America. It may have arisen in Europe through hybridization and backcrossing between P. balsamifera and southern P. deltoides subsp. deltoides . Most wild hybrids have P. deltoides subsp. monilifera as the cottonwood parent.

Similar to the other North American balsam poplars, Populus balsamifera hybridizes sporadically with the introduced Eurasian P. nigra . That hybrid, P. × rollandii Rouleau, which was originally thought to have involved P. × canadensis , itself a hybrid offspring of P. nigra , has been collected in the vicinity of Montreal, Quebec (E. Rouleau 1944). Its leaves are similar in shape to those of P. × canadensis but have the reddish resin stains and cylindrical petioles of P. balsamifera .

Populus balsamifera does not hybridize naturally with P. tremuloides , as sometimes reported (E. Lepage 1961; F. G. Bernard 1968). Specimens that formed the basis for those reports are either P. × jackii or slender sucker shoots of P. tremuloides bearing correspondingly narrow leaves.

Populus ×jackii has branchlets that are short-haired or pubescent, petioles densely pubescent, at least distally, preformed blade margins with 20(-45) teeth on each side, sinuses to 1.5 mm deep, pedicels to 3 mm, discs saucer-shaped, 1-4 mm diam., ovaries 3- or 4-carpelled and glabrous, capsules usually 3- or 4-valved, ovoid, (4-)8-11(-16) mm, and seeds (6 or) 7-15(-25) per placenta. It is similar to P. simonii in having winter buds with red resin, petioles to 2 cm, round, cylindrical, or distally slightly flattened in the plane of blade, leaf blades lighter green abaxially, elliptic-rhombate to ovate, (1-)3-20(-27.5) cm, bases acute, cuneate, rounded, truncate, or shallowly cordate, apices obtuse, acute, or acuminate, and surfaces not obviously resin-stained, with abaxial surface glabrous or with short, stiff hairs. The flowers are similar with discs entire, persistent, and not obviously oblique, catkins with floral bracts not ciliate and glabrous abaxially, 10-60(-70) stamens ( P. simonii with fewer than 12), anthers usually truncate, stigmas 2-4 and expanded, and ovaries ovoid to spherical. In addition to these traits, P. simonii has terminal buds that are usually less than 12 mm, branchlets whitish tan by the third year, catkins 3-8 cm, and stamens usually fewer than 12.

Updated: 2020-06-04 18:58:08 gmt
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