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Author Topic: balsam poplar  (Read 8029 times)

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Offline L. Wakefield

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balsam poplar
« on: September 29, 2000, 03:55:12 pm »
   Hi! I have been beating the bushes web-wide, attemting to find someone who sells populus balsamifera. Just before my old system was struck by lightning, I had come across a ref in one of the western states, but had no hardcopy, and haven't been able to relocate. Would anyone have any leads on this item?
L. Wakefield, owner and operator of the beastly truck Heretik, that refuses to stay between the lines when parking

Jeff

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Re: balsam poplar
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2000, 08:31:46 pm »
Hello there L. Wakefield, and welcome to the board!
 
 Below is a description for our visitors on Balsom Poplar. it is known regionally by different names, so I included this for our visitors.

Are you looking for Logs or Lumber? What area are you located?

"Balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera) is the northernmost American hardwood. It grows transcontinentally on upland and flood plain sites but attains the best development on flood plains. It is a hardy, fast-growing tree which is generally short lived, with some trees reaching 200 years. Other names are balm-of-gilead, bam, tacamahac, cottonwood, or heartleaf balsam poplar."

Offline L. Wakefield

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Re: balsam poplar
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2000, 10:23:13 am »
   um.. neither, actually. I own a small woodland (128 acres) and am looking to plant saplings for future use. I realized after I posted that I had not made that clear. Hopefully I'm not too out of line asking for that information on this forum. It does seem that the tree is pretty widely grown- possibly mostly in native stands, but as I say I had previously found 1 commercial operation selling the young trees.
  I am in York Co., Maine-(zone 4) having much swamp and near-swamp, as well as ledge and the occasional area that can actually be called good soil. The area was timbered off in 1995, and the pines are coming back fast. It's time for me to put in some desirable timber. I want to do sweet birch, basswood, and poplar (as mentioned)- there is already a lot of maple, oak, cherry, and apple. I am starting from a very minimal knowledge base as far as commercial timber goes, so your forum looks like a good place to learn. Thanks in advance for any help.   L. Wakefield
L. Wakefield, owner and operator of the beastly truck Heretik, that refuses to stay between the lines when parking

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: balsam poplar
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2000, 06:29:22 pm »
Why are you considering balsam poplar?

From an economic standpoint, balsam poplar doesn't make a whole lot of sense.   Balsam is on the low end of the economic scale.  

On the marginal lands, I would go more for the softwoods, especially in your area where you get good red knot pine.  They grow faster and taller than hardwoods.  This gives greater yield in less time.  Hardwoods on marginal lands will yield lower quality products.

On the better sites, I would go for the more dense growing hardwoods.  Cherry, if you can get it, maple, and oak.  Those species consistently give good economic returns.  Returns on dense hardwoods are probably around 5:1 over the less dense species.  Even if growth rates are half of the faster growing species, the returns are better.

Harvest returns will depend where you are on the demand cycle.  We have gone through the oak cycle and are now returning to the maple and dense hardwood cycle.  It took about 30 years to make the cycle.  Oak is still in demand, but do not command the prices that maple and cherry are presently showing.  You have to think long term, since the forest will outlast you and I, and the cycles will probably be present, long after we are gone.

If you still want to consider balsam poplar, think about what your final product will be.  It won't make very good firewood, or lumber.  There are regional exceptions, but I don't know if Maine is the exception.  (I'm from Pennsylvania).

Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Offline L. Wakefield

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Re: balsam poplar
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2000, 07:26:23 pm »
I will certainly take note of your advice; and look at that list in terms of other plantings. My interest in balsam poplar arises from the standpoint of nontimber forestry products. I am investigating various tree resins for aromatic and other characteristics. I have done a limited amount of blending essential oils to produce perfume products (and have sold a few)- and in the making, have become just a bit steamed that so many (high priced!) products come from countries other than the US. Now I will grant that I won't be able to grow frankincense or myrrh trees here, and my roses will never equal those of Turkey or Morocco. BUT...I want to take a good close look at what I CAN do.
  I'm not going to plant acres of these puppies (the poplars)- but if you look into it, they are the preferred tree by bees when those critters go to gather resin for propolis. Various products are made from propolis in and of itself- and a lovely (and pricey) extract is made from beeswax- and another very nice one from propolis. Soo... my curiosity is aroused.
  I had made an infusion and a tincture from populus tremuloides this spring, and it blends nicely enough that I want to look into the characteristics of balsam poplar- aka balm of Gilead... I suspect it could be useful.  LW
L. Wakefield, owner and operator of the beastly truck Heretik, that refuses to stay between the lines when parking

Jeff

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Re: balsam poplar
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2000, 07:34:58 pm »
Golly, this isn't advice, or probably even relevant to the chemistry of which you talk, but Ron can probably testify to this... Have you ever smelled balm-of-gilead or cotton wood when its being sawed? All I can think of is a perfume that actually smells like lowland poplar PHEW!

Besides my duties here,I actually hold the Job as a full time head sawyer in a large mill here in Mich. And I have smelled way to much of it!

Like I said though, I am sure that the smell I smell is not relevant to the smell you want to smell! (what did I just say??) :o)

Offline L. Wakefield

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Re: balsam poplar
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2000, 11:19:01 am »
   The fragrance of wood..I can think of nothing better than black walnut, or red oak- I can't smell oak without thinking of whiskey..and yet I know of no aromatic oils from those species. You would 'have to be there'- to judge for yourself the populus tremuloides infused oil, esp when mixed with vanilla and sandalwood. I am intrigued enough to look at the resin of balsam poplar buds in the spring- if I can only locate it. Ah well, if I do not succeed with the nursery requests I have out, I will go up to Skowhegan in the spring, and follow my nose into the swamps.. I'll keep you posted.
L. Wakefield, owner and operator of the beastly truck Heretik, that refuses to stay between the lines when parking

Offline Forester Frank

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Re: balsam poplar
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2000, 06:56:27 pm »
I love the smell of balsam poplar buds in the spring. It is very pungent, and somewhat sweet smelling. The wood does stink though.

Try www.oikos.com/
Oikos, pronounced ecos, is a nursery located in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ken Asmus is the proprietor, and he does all kinds of stuff with woody plants - mainly oaks. Send Ken a dollar and he will send you a catalogue. I do not have the address right now, but check back in a day and I'll post it.

How about planting some lavendar instead? I know it's too far north for commercial purposes, but I love the way it smells. I would plant a whole field of it if I had the acreage.

JGG
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Offline L. Wakefield

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Re: balsam poplar
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2000, 05:52:50 pm »
   Hi Jeff and all .. sorry to delay in replying- I was off to Arizona to study lichens and pinyon pine- specimen collecting and trading. The source of balsam (and other) poplar that I (re)located is Forest Farms in Williams, Oregon. Website is www.forestfarm.com/search/plant.asp . When I e-mailed them they told me they are sold out of balsamifera right at present, but would have more. They also have the black cottonwood (p. trichocarpa), which is considered by some to be a subspecies, and has some similar characteristics.
  As to other fragrant species- be sure I am increasing the plantations of these as possible. I've been working on roses for 3 years, and lavendar, rosemary, woodruff, costmary, etc etc for about the same. The trick here is to find cultivars that like Maine. It seems if they survive 3 years I have them in a vigorous state. I'm also determined to start black birch (b.lenta) and basswood (tilia sp) as reps of species with multipurpose (and of course fragrant) usages. Too bad I'm not likely to live to a tree's age myself to see the long-term outcome..
  Thanks to some collecting in Arizona, I now have pinyon resin to compare with frankincense, myrrh, and good old white pine resin. Dunno why I should have the nuts to believe resin from domestic trees should compare with those collected since ancient times in the 'old world'- but I just do. (So what if we're new? We've got resin! Yeah!)
L. Wakefield, owner and operator of the beastly truck Heretik, that refuses to stay between the lines when parking

Offline Forester Frank

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Re: balsam poplar
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2000, 06:59:54 pm »
L.W.

Question. All this talk about resin makes me think of P. resinosa (Red Pine. I am sure that it is abundant in Maine. Any uses for the resin?

Also have to share this with you. While bird hunting today, I pulled off the bud of Populus balsamifera and smelled it. Then I stuck it in my vest. I normally would not do that, but when I saw it I immeadiately thought of the conversation from the forum.

This internet stuff is great!

One more thing. A midwest friend of mine moved to Arizona and say that he will never move back. I asked if he would miss the four seasons, he replied, "NO". Is it that nice?

JGG
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: balsam poplar
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2000, 07:21:30 pm »
Would Hybrid Poplar work? A number of nurseries have it available.
~Ron

Offline L. Wakefield

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Re: balsam poplar
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2000, 06:46:48 pm »
Hi Ron and Jolly.. I was coincidentally just wandering about the back acreage, and where I have subconsciously been watching the white pine seedlings since 95 and counting the years off on them- I came on this RADICAL 5-year old seedling that must be the red pine- 2 needles, I think I counted, instead of the white pine's 5- and a very vigorous and rough-cut appearance- kinda like the Abe Lincoln of seedlings. If it wore clothes, the sleeves and pantlegs would be too short.. I didn't find but the one, and can't locate the parent tree. It may have been cut. They left seed trees, but so far I think I'm seeing seedlings that were dropped pre-clearcut. So I will keep my eyes open. I also have various fir and hemlock to look at- hemlock's got to be good for something. They used to make barns out of it up here. But no one likes hemlock- it gets the lowest price. So that's what I've got left- a lot of it. Part of it is in a bog, and thank God they didn't turn the skidders loose in there. The ruts I have are horrible. Usually they cut in the winter, when the ground is frozen, but my brother wanted to settle the estate, so they cut in the summer and in a hurry. But the land is starting to heal a little bit (Anybody got a dozer/backhoe combo on trax that I could buy??)
  The white pine was tiny the first 3 years. But the length of growth last year- even with the drought- is almost 1 1/2 ft between nodes. I gotta say, I'm impressed. If I start living healthy, I might even see these trees do something.
  About the hybrid poplar- I may look at that later. (I thought I might have found my mystery tree, but it turned out to be moose maple- has gigunda leaves that look a little like a poplar, and buds the right shape, but it didn't taste or smell right.)
  I've been hearing owls after dark- trying to remember if they do something special in the fall. There is a guy at work who knows.. They hunt year round, but I don't know about other activities. He told me and I forgot. We have the big owls up here. Down in WV we also had screech owls. What do youall have for owls? (and to change the subject yet again, have you noticed a decrease in whip-poor-wills over the past few years? I can't tell if it's just in my area of New England, or if it's more widespread than that.)
L. Wakefield, owner and operator of the beastly truck Heretik, that refuses to stay between the lines when parking

Jeff

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Re: balsam poplar
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2000, 05:58:35 pm »
Hi,
Funny you should mention the owls, as I was just having some thoughts on that the other night while I was bow hunting. I heard great horned owls calling to each other from what seems miles apart. One would start to the north, where I could just hear it. then another would answer near me. (near being relative, as I think it was still 1/2 mile away) then a third would answer way to the south, almost out of ear shot.

I am sure they were communicating as they never called out of sequence. I sat there thinking what in the world could these owls might be discussing.

I have had a more "up close and personal" encounter with one of these big boys in the past while hunting. I heard this strange sound of rushing air, and looked up just in time to see a pair of talons pulling up. I dropped my bow from the tree as I threw up my arms for protection. I guess that old owl had determined that my beard was a black squirrel, and he didn't change his mind until about the same time I saw him, at about three feet away! Great experience! (I might think different if he had actually grabbed my face!) Here is a link about that guy on www.enature.com. If you have never visited this site, it's awesome
Great Horned Owl

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: balsam poplar
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2000, 07:49:38 pm »
Yes, the owls seem to be active. I've been hearing them also, especially when getting ready to leave the bow stand. I hear them other seasons also, but as the leaves come off the trees now their sound really carries so that others answer one another making for a noisy woods. Join in on the calling if you want to have some fun and maybe bring one in to you.
When I was in West Virginia, the coal minners use to communicate in the mines by owl hooting. It also kept them in practice for turkey hunting.
~Ron