The sweet smell of spring...
A common tree that occurs throughout Alberta, the smell of balsam poplar is a sure sign of spring. Shortly after flowering, the leaves emerge coated with a sticky sweet-smelling resin that also coats the scales of the leaf buds (and sticks to cars parked below). In riverine forests, where the trees are large and numerous that wonderful smell pervades the atmosphere almost as strongly as the smell of wolf willow that will soon follow. You might have to risk getting a sticky nose to fully appreciate it, if there's only one tree. My advice: park your car somewhere else and go for a walk in the woods!
Another name for the tree is Balm of Gilead, a name that implies calming medicinal properties. In many places, the local name is “bamagila” or just “bam”, both contractions of Balm of Gilead. The resin, and also the inner bark in spring, is traditionally used by indiginous people for a variety of purposes (from sore skin, sore throat, and lung ailments to diabetes) as a lotion dissolved in oil, as a tea, or in tincture. While citing some of these uses, Kershaw warns that some sources say it's mildly poisonous. Other books on edible wild plants, apart from herbalist publications, do not mention it.
Photo and text by Jim Posey
Kershaw, Linda, “Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies”, Lone Pine Publishing, 2000
Plant Happenings - May 2013
Click here to download the latest Plant Happenings, a list of plant related events and publications, etc.
News Added: 2013-05-14
ANPC's Upcoming 2013 Field Trips
For details on ANPC's upcoming field trips, click here . Associated documents, include the Field Guide to the
Whitehorse Wildland volunteer opportunity and further details of the Northern Plant & Ecology
2013 Field Trips
News Added: 2013-05-03
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News Added: 2013-02-08
ANPC Board Positions Open for Nominations
Click here to review the ANPC Board of Directors open for nomination at the upcoming AGM, to be held in Olds, AB on Saturday April 13, 2013.
News Added: 2013-01-24
Plant Happenings - January 2013
For the latest Plant Happenings, click here.
News Added: 2013-01-24
Revised Carex Photo Supplement
Pat Marlowe has a revised version of Part II of the Photo Supplement to Carex Establishment on Reclaimed Oil Sands Landscapes. This revised version corrects the habitat description for Carex oligosperma and some spelling errors. It can be found here .
News Added: 2012-12-04
Plant Happenings - June 2012
For the latest plant related workshops, field trips, opportunities and links of interest, click here.
News Added: 2012-06-09
ANPC Guidelines for Rare Vascular Plant Surveys in Alberta - 2012 Update
The ANPC has updated guidelines for rare plant surveys. These updated guidelines are specific for vascular plants and supplement the original guidelines. To download the updated guidelines click here. The original guidelines are still available under the Publications list on this website. The ANPC has also compiled a Recommended Documents for Botanical Surveys in Areas of Proposed Disturbance, to provide guidance for botanical elements other than vascular plants, such as bryophytes, lichens and rare ecological communities. This document can be found under our Publications
News Added: 2012-05-23
Plant Happenings - May 2012
For a listing of native plant related events, links and opportunities, click here.
News Added: 2012-05-11
ANPC 2012 Workshop - FINAL PROGRAM - Native Plants in Urban Environments
This year, the ANPC's annual workshop focuses on the use of native plants in urban environments. To download the FINAL PROGRAM, click here. To download the REGISTRATION FORM, click here. The AGM will be held in conjunction with the workshop
News Added: 2012-04-17