Balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera)

Balsam poplar photograph; ? MN DNR


Can grow to a height of 50' to 80' with a diameter of 24" or more; grows upright with narrow, straight top that later becomes somewhat broad.


Smooth, brown-gray color, deeply furrowed, gray-black color on old trunks.


Simple, alternate on stem, 3" to 6" long; ovate, long pointed, edges finely toothed, dark green and shiny above, pale and often rusty tinged beneath; turns yellow in autumn. Buds are large, pointed, golden-yellow, covered generously with varnish like resin or pitch, and give off a strong, pungent aroma.

Fruit (seed)

Small, cotton like capsules grouped in 4" to 6" catkins, easily carried by the wind for long distances; appear in May or June.


Found throughout the northern part of the state along streams and edges of swamps or in other cool localities; shade intolerant, fast growing.