Balm Of Gilead
=Habitat and Range.=--In a great variety of soils; usually in cultivated
or pasture lands in the vicinity of dwellings; infrequently found in a
wild state. The original site of this tree has not been definitely
agreed upon. Professor L. H. Bailey reports that it is indigenous in
Michigan, and northern collectors find both sexes in New Hampshire and
Vermont; while in central and southern New England the staminate tree is
rarely if ever seen, and the pistillate flowers seldom if ever mature
perfect fruit. The evidence seems to indicate a narrow belt extending
through northern New Hampshire, Vermont and Michigan, with the
intermediate southern sections of the Province of Ontario as the home of
the Balm of Gilead.
Nova Scotia and New Brunswick,--occasional; Ontario,--frequent.
New England,--occasional throughout.
South to New Jersey; west to Michigan and Minnesota.
=Habit.=--A medium-sized tree, 40-60 feet high; trunk 1-3 feet in
diameter, straight or inclined, sometimes beset with a few crooked,
bushy branchlets; head very variable in shape and size; solitary in open
ground, commonly broad-based, spacious, and pyramidal, among other
trees more often rather small; loosely and irregularly branched, with
sparse, coarse, and often crooked spray; foliage dark green, handsome,
and abundant; all parts characterized by a strong and peculiar resinous
fragrance. A single tree multiplying by suckers often becomes parent of
a grove covering half an acre, more or less, made up of trees of all
ages and sizes.
=Bark.=--Bark of trunk and lower portions of large branches dark gray,
rough, irregularly striate and firm in old trees; in young trees and
upon smaller branches smooth, soft grayish-green, often flanged by
prominent ridges running down the stalk from the vertices of the
triangular leaf-scars; season's shoots often flanged, shining reddish or
olive green, with occasional longitudinal gray lines, viscid.
=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Buds dark reddish-brown, rather closely set
along the stalk, conical or somewhat angled, narrow, often falcate,
sharp-pointed, resinous throughout, viscid, aromatic, exhaling a
powerful odor when the scales expand, terminal about 3/4 inch long.
Leaves 4-6 inches long and nearly as wide, yellowish-green at first,
becoming dark green and smooth on the upper surface with the exception
of a minute pubescence along the veins, dull light green beneath,
finely serrate with incurved glandular points, usually ciliate with
minute stiff, whitish hairs; base heart-shaped; apex short-pointed;
petioles about 1-1-1/2 inches long, more or less hairy, somewhat
flattened at right angles to the blade; stipules short, ovate, acute,
=Inflorescence.=--Similar to that of P. balsamifera.
=Fruit.=--Similar to that of P. balsamifera.
=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy throughout New England; has an attractive
foliage and grows rapidly in all soils and situations, but the branches
are easily broken by the wind, and its habit of suckering makes it
objectionable in ornamental ground; occasionally offered by nurserymen
and collectors. Propagated from cuttings.
1. Winter bud.
2. Branch with fertile catkins.
3. Fertile flower.
4. Fruiting branch.
=Populus alba, L.=
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