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

Populus balsamifera L. subsp. balsamifera
balsam poplar
Salicaceae (Willow family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Virginia Skilton  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #32540)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Populus balsamifera subsp. balsamifera
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Species Information

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Dioecious tree up to 50 m tall; not colonial; branches brown the first year, turning grey later; twigs smooth or sparsely hairy.
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.
Borne in catkins; male catkins 2-3 (5) cm long, soon deciduous, with 8-60 stamens; female catkins 8-20 cm long.
Capsules, broadly egg-shaped, carpels 2-3, smooth or hairy, nearly unstalked.
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

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


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.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Populus balsamifera var. candicans (Aiton) A. Gray
Populus balsamifera var. fernaldiana Rouleau
Populus balsamifera var. lanceolata Marsh.
Populus balsamifera var. michauxii (Dode) A. Henry
Populus balsamifera var. subcordata Hyl.
Populus candicans Aiton
Populus michauxii Dode
Populus tacamahaca Mill.
Populus tacamahaca var. candicans (Aiton) Stout
Populus tacamahaca var. lanceolata (Marsh.) Farw.
Populus tacamahaca var. michauxii (Dode) Farw.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References