Anatomical and Physical Properties of Balsam Poplar (Populus Balsamifera L.) in Minnesota

Robert E. Kroll, David C. Ritter, Roland O. Gertjejansen, Khuan C. Au


Balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera L.), a north temperate boreal hardwood, is spread across the continent at the United States and Canadian border and elsewhere in the interior of Western Canada. For commercial purposes, it is categorized with the cottonwoods rather than the aspens. In this study of ten straight and sound balsam poplars from Minnesota, it was determined that they had some properties permitting them to be placed in both categories. Vessel number and size were more similar to the aspens as was specific gravity at 0.36 (oven-dry weight/green volume). Characteristics similar to the cottonwoods were an average moisture content of 140% and heartwood with a much higher moisture content than sapwood.

The general patterns for angiosperms were seen in these balsam poplars. Vessel numbers increased with height in the bole, and vessel diameter decreased with height. Vessel numbers decreased from pith to bark, while vessel diameter increased. A noteworthy exception to this pattern was that the southside of the trees had significantly more vessels, higher specific gravity, higher percentage of gelatinous fiber area, and significantly higher pH. All trees had an abundance of fibers laden with gelatinous layers ranging from 22 to 63% among the ten trees.


Balsam poplar;Populus balsamifera L.;anatomy;gelatinous fibers

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