The Populus Balsamifera
is commonly known as Balsam Poplar
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Balsam poplar occurs mainly in riparian areas of boreal and montane
conifer forests [35
]. Its distribution extends from Alaska across most
of Canada to Labrador and Newfoundland [93
]. In British Columbia it
is restricted to areas east of the Rocky Mountains [8
poplar is rare in the northwestern United States, with sketchy records
of its existence in Idaho and Oregon [32
]. It occurs sparingly in the
Rocky Mountains of Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado
] and extends east through the northern Great
Plains to the Atlantic Coast. It is found along creekbanks, moist
hillsides, sandhill potholes, and knolls in North and South Dakota [93
North and east of the Great Plains, balsam poplar forms extensive
floodplain forests [35
]. New York [32
] and West Virginia [61
alternately reported as the southern extreme for this tree in the
eastern United States.
The scientific name of balsam poplar is Populus balsamifera L.
subsp. balsamifera. Black cottonwood (Populus balsamifera subsp.
trichocarpa) is the other subspecies of Populus balsamifera [101
For information on black cottonwood
, see that FEIS review.
Balsam poplar hybridizes with black cottonwood in Alaska,
where ranges of the two trees overlap [101
]. It also hybridizes with
narrowleaf cottonwood (P. angustifolia) [35
], eastern cottonwood (P.
], and rarely with aspen (P. tremuloides) [61
LIFE FORM :
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS :
No special status
OTHER STATUS :
The South Dakota Natural Heritage Program lists balsam poplar as
uncommon in the state [114
Balsam poplar is a seral species that occurs primarily in ecotones
between boreal forest and tundra or prairie, and along streams and
rivers. It is most common in white spruce (Picea glauca) forests of
Canada but can extend beyond the conifer treeline in western Canada and
Alaska . Classifications including balsam poplar as a dominant
component in community types (cts), plant associations (pas), or
ecosystem associations (eas) are listed below.
Area Classification Authority
Alaska general veg. pas Viereck 1989
general veg. cts Viereck and Dyrness 1980
postfire forest cts Foote 1983
British Columbia general veg. eas Pojar & others 1984
Alberta general veg. cts Dirschl & others 1974
wc Alberta forest cts Corns 1983
Ontario forst eas Jones & others 1983
Canada general veg. pas Roi 1967
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Much of the information presented here is attributed to:
Harris, Holly T. 1990. Populus balsamifera subsp. balsamifera.
In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online].
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,
Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available at USDA Forest Service.