Trees in the willow family, including poplars, aspens and cottonwoods, are always in a rush – in a rush to grow! Balsam poplars are part of this fast family whose members grow like weeds. Some people refer to poplars as pioneers since they are the first trees to move into and settle an open and recently disturbed low lying area.
Balsam poplars get drunk on sunshine growing fast towards the sun. But they are not a long lived tree – their wood is not very strong and their tops can break easily in windstorms. They try to hold onto life by regenerating from root sprouts or stump sprouts. Even their broken off branches can take root. They clone themselves holding on to their sunny spot as long as possible. However, these fast trees also hybridize like crazy doing whatever it takes to hang on to their place. Once other shade tolerant species move in underneath the poplars they slowly outcompete the stellar growers and change the forest for good.
The fast personality and inability to give up makes balsam poplars attractive to folks planting windbreaks and screens. However, you wouldn’t want to plant one close to your house or septic system for fear that its roots may clog up your pipes.
Balsam poplars are easy to grow: they like full sunlight and tolerate moist to well drained loamy soils. You can order your own on-line to plant this spring http://orders.ltc.on.ca/treeform/tree_form.php , or just give Ewa a call at 613-394-3915 ext 252 to choose your favourite trees. For more details about placing an order please see our website: http://www.ltc.on.ca/stewardship/tssp/