In spring, when its leaves appear and the fruit develops, the balsam poplar gives off a characteristic odour. It is one of the few sizable deciduous trees that can be used as ornamentals in northern towns and villages.
Typically found in low-lying, moist ground, this poplar prefers the alluvial shorelines of waterways and lakes.
It forms pure stands but also is found with other species that grow in wet areas, such as speckled alder and willows. It associates with balsam fir, white and black spruce and trembling aspen as well.
The wood varies from nearly white to grayish or reddish brown. It is light, soft and low in strength.
It is used for plywood, particleboard and excelsior, as well as for pulpwood.
Leaves, alternate, simple, finely toothed, sometimes with glands at the leaf base.
Fruits, capsules closely spaced on drooping flexible stalks.