Balsam Poplar Balm Of Gilead
=Habitat and Range.=--Alluvial soils; river banks, valleys, borders of
Newfoundland and Nova Scotia west to Manitoba; northward to the
coast of Alaska and along the Mackenzie river to the Arctic circle.
Maine,--common; New Hampshire,--Connecticut river valley, generally near
the river, becoming more plentiful northward; Vermont,--frequent;
Massachusetts and Rhode Island,--not reported; Connecticut,--extending
along the Housatonic river at New Milford for five or six miles, perhaps
derived from an introduced tree (C. K. Averill, Rhodora, II, 35).
West through northern New York, Michigan, Minnesota, Dakota (Black
Hills), Montana, beyond the Rockies to the Pacific coast.
=Habit.=--A medium-sized tree, 30-75 feet high, trunk 1-3 feet in
diameter, straight; branches horizontal or nearly so, slender for size
of tree, short; head open, narrow-oblong or oblong-conical; branchlets
mostly terete; foliage thin.
=Bark.=--In old trees dark gray or ash-gray, firm-ridged, in young trees
smooth; branchlets grayish; season's shoots reddish or greenish brown,
=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Buds 3/4 inch long, appressed or slightly
divergent, conical, slender, acute, resin-coated, sticky, fragrant when
opening. Leaves 3-6 inches long, about one-half as wide, yellowish when
young, when mature bright green, whitish below; outline ovate-lanceolate
or ovate, finely toothed, gradually tapering to an acute or acuminate
apex; base obtuse to rounded, sometimes truncate or heart-shaped;
leafstalk much shorter than the blade, terete or nearly so; stipules
soon falling. The leaves of var. intermedia are obovate to oval; those
of var. latifolia closely approach the leaves of P. candicans.
=Inflorescence.=--April. Sterile 3-4 inches long, fertile at first about
the same length, gradually elongating, loosely flowered; bracts
irregularly and rather narrowly cut-toothed, each bract subtending a
cup-shaped disk; stamens numerous; anthers red: ovary short-stalked;
stigmas two, 2-lobed, large, wavy-margined.
=Fruit.=--Fruiting catkins drooping, 4-6 inches long: capsules ovoid,
acute, longer than the pedicels, green: seeds numerous, hairy.
=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy throughout New England; grows in all
excepting very wet soils, in full sun or light shade, and in exposed
situations; of rapid growth, but subject to the attacks of borers, which
kill the branches and make the head unsightly; also spreads from the
roots, and therefore not desirable for ornamental plantations; most
useful in the formation of shelter-belts; readily transplanted but not
common in nurseries. Propagated from cuttings.
1. Branch with sterile flowers.
2. Sterile flower, back view.
3. Sterile flower, side view.
4. Scales of sterile flower.
5. Branch with fertile catkins.
6. Fertile flower.
7. Fruiting catkins, mature.
8. Branch with mature leaves.
=Populus candicans, Ait.=
Populus balsamifera, var. candicans, Gray.
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