Black Cottonwood

Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa)
Populus trichocarpa

Balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera) is the northernmost American hardwood, and grows across the continent. Though it appears in upland areas, it thrives in floodplains. It is our tallest native broad-leaved tree, and has dark grey bark. In the spring and early summer the sticky resin on leaf buds releases a strong, balsamic fragrance. It is hardy, fast-growing, and relatively short-lived, though some trees have been known to live for 200 years. Other names are balm-of-gilead, bam, tacamahac, cottonwood, or heartleaf balsam poplar.


The leaves of the balsam poplar serve as food for various caterpillars in the order Lepidoptera. It is an important browse for deer and elk and provides nesting habitat for large birds. The anti-infectant property of the resin is used by bees, who seal intruders in it to prevent decay and protect the hive.


A great riparian restoration species. The light, soft wood is used for paper pulp and construction lumber.

  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist, Seasonally Wet, Perennially Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Spreads: No
  • Wildlife Support: Birds or Mammals
  • Fire-resistant: No
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 175ft
  • Mature Width:40ft