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Montana Field Guides

Black Cottonwood - Populus balsamifera
Other Names:  Balsam Poplar, Populus trichocarpa

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:
C-value: 5

External Links

General Description
Tree to 40 m with ascending branches. Bark smooth, white at first, becoming gray and furrowed. Leaf blades broadly lance-shaped with truncate bases, 5–15 cm long, pale below. Female catkins 8–15 cm long; stigmas 3. Capsules 5–8 mm long. (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Species Range

Range Comments
AK to NL south to CA, WY and WI (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 672

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Forest and gravel bars along rivers, streams, aspen groves, avalanche slopes, roadsides; valleys to lower subalpine zone (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
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    • Barnes, B. V. 1966. The clonal growth of American aspens. Ecology 47(3):439-447.
    • Barnes, B. V. 1969. Natural variation and delineation of clones of Populus tremuloides and P. grandidentata in northern lower Michigan. Silvae Genetica 18:130-142.
    • Barnes, B. V. and W. H. Wagner, Jr. 1981. Michigan trees: a guide to the trees of Michigan and the Great Lakes region. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 384 p.
    • DeByle, N. V. 1964. Detection of functional intraclonal aspen root connections by tracers and excavation. Forest Sci. 10(4):386-396.
    • Eliasson, L. 1971. Growth regulators in Populus tremula IV Apical dominance and suckering in young plants. Physiol. Plant. 25:263-267.
    • Farmer, R. E. Jr. 1962. Aspen root sucker formation and apical dominanace. Forest Sci. 8(4):403-410.
    • Fowells, H. A, compiler. 1965. Silvics of the forest trees of the United States. Agriculture Handbook No. 271. USDA Forest Service, Washington, DC. 762 pp.
    • Graham, S. A., R. P. Harrison Jr., and C.E. Westell Jr. 1963. Aspens: phoenix trees of the Great Lakes region. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. 272 pp.
    • Jobidon, R., and J.R. Thiboult. 1981. Allelopathic effects o balsam poplar on green alder germination. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 108(4):413.
    • Lesica, P., M. T. Lavin, and P. F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Little, E.L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agriculture Handbook No. 541. U.S. Forest Service, Washington, D.C. 375 pp.
    • Maini, J. S. 1972. Silvics and ecology in Canada. Aspen: Symposium Proceedings. U. S. Dept. Agric. Forest Service General Technical Report, North Central For. Exp. Stat. NC-1:67-73.
    • Maini, J.S. 1960. Invasion of grassland by Populus tremuloides in the northern great plains. (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan): University of Saskatchewan. 231 pp. Dissertation.
    • Perala, D. A. 1972. Regeneration: biotic and silvicultural factors. Aspen: Symposium proceedings. U. S. Dept. Agric. Forest Service General Technical Report, North Central For. Exp. Stat. NC-1:67-73.
    • Rosendahl, C.O. 1970. Trees and shrubs of the upper midwest. Minneapois, Minnesota, Univ. of Minnesota Press. 411 p.
    • Sandberg, D. 1951. The regeneration of quaking aspen by root suckering. St. Paul, MN: University of Minnesota. 172 p. Thesis.
    • Schier, G. A. 1972. Apical dominance in multi-shoot cultures from aspen roots. Forest Sci. 18(20): 147-149.
    • Schier, G. A. 1981. Aspen regeneration. DeByle, N. V., ed. Symposium proceedings situation management of two intermountain species: aspen and coyotes. Vol. I:Aspen. Utah State Univ. p. 15-21.
    • Schier, G. A. and J. C. Zasada. 1973. Role of carbohydrate reserves in the development of root suckers in Populus tremuloides. Can. J. Forest Research 3:243-250.
    • Schier, G. A. and R. S. Johnston. 1971. Clonal variation in total nonstructural carbohydrates of trembling aspen roots in three Utah areas. Can. J. Forest Research 1:252-255.
    • Tew, R. K. 1970. Root carbohydrate reserves in vegetative reproduction of aspen. Forest Sci. 16(3):318-320.
    • Weigle, W. G. and E. H. Frothingham. 1911. The aspens: their growth and management. U. S. Dept. Agric. Forest Service Bull. 93.
    • Zehngraff, P. J. 1949. Aspen as a forest crop in the lake states. J. Forestry 47:555-565.
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Citation for data on this website:
Black Cottonwood — Populus balsamifera.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from