E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Populus balsamifera L.
balsam poplar (balsam poplar (ssp. balsamifera); black cottonwood (ssp. trichocarpa))
Salicaceae (Willow family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jim Riley  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #32652)

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Distribution of Populus balsamifera
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Species Information

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General:
Dioecious tree up to 50 m tall; not colonial; branches brown the first year, turning grey later; twigs smooth or sparsely hairy.
Leaves:
Alternate, deciduous, simple, narrowly to broadly egg-shaped or lanceolate, 5-20 cm long, 3-12 cm wide, the bases tapered to heart-shaped or squared-off smooth, finely toothed and hairy on the margins, the teeth often tipped with a callous gland, lower side whitish or pale green and brownish; leaf stalks 2-10 cm long, often with a pair of glands near the blade; buds finely hairy with fringed scales.
Flowers:
Borne in catkins; male catkins 2-3 (5) cm long, soon deciduous, with 8-60 stamens; female catkins 8-20 cm long.
Fruits:
Capsules, broadly egg-shaped, carpels 2-3, smooth or hairy, nearly unstalked.
Notes:
Two subspecies occur in BC. The hybrids P. angustifolia James x P. balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa (P. x brayshawii Boivin) and P. balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa x P. nigra L. var. italica DuRoi are rare in BC .

1. Ovaries and capsules smooth; leaves pale green and brownish beneath.................... ssp. balsamifera

1. Ovaries and young capsules hairy; leaves whitish beneath.................... ssp. trichocarpa (T. & G.) Brayshaw

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Yellow
Blooming Period:
Late Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Spring to Summer
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Moist uplands and floodplains in the montane zone; ssp. balsamifera - common in N and E BC; ssp. trichocarpa - common throughout BC except rare on Queen Charlotte Islands; ssp. balsamifera - N to YT, AK and NT, E to NF and S to NY, VA, IL, IA, CO, ID and OR; ssp. trichocarpa - N to S AK and YT, E to SW AB and S to ND, WY, UT, NV and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Ecology

Ecological Framework for Populus balsamifera

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class

Minimum

Average

Maximum

Elevation (metres) 0 757 2131
Slope Gradient (%) -2 11 205
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 207 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 4 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Class
D
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
1540
Modal BEC Zone Class
BWBS
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BAFA(1), BG(3), BWBS(567), CDF(32), CWH(94), ESSF(54), ICH(260), IDF(57), MS(20), PP(7), SBPS(6), SBS(270), SWB(48)

Climate

The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References