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Life History and Disturbance Response of Populus balsamifera (Balsam Poplar)
Family: Salicaceae
Guild: pioneer, moist-site tolerant
Functional Lifeform: medium to tall deciduous tree
Ecological Role: A pioneer species grows both on upland and bottom land sites, but does best on flood plains. Once established it can greatly affect the soil on the site and provides cover for trees that if left uncut can shade the poplar out. It is the northern most ranging North American hardwood.
Lifespan, yrs (typical/max): 80-100/200
Shade Tolerance: intolerant
Height, m: 20-30
Canopy Tree: yes
Pollination Agent: wind
Seeding, yrs (begins/optimal/declines): 8/?/?
Mast Frequency, yrs: 1 yr
New Cohorts Source: seeds or sprouts
Flowering Dates: late spring into summer in northern latitudes
Seedfall Begins: summer
Seed Banking: seasonal, <2 months
Cold Stratification Required: no
Seed Type/Dispersal Distance/Agent: plummed/200m/wind water
Season of Germination: summer
Seedling Rooting System: Multilayered
Sprouting: can sprout from stems and branches that have been buried, also root suckers and stump sprouts
Establishment Seedbed Preferences:
Substrate: mineral
Light: variable
Moisture: most required, can germinate underwater
Temperature: above 15-20 C
Disturbance Response:
Fire: Susceptibility to fire varies with characteristics of individual trees and stands. Mature trees can withstand mild to moderate fires. Balsam poplar produces root suckers after fire to recolonize in addition to colonizing seeds.
Air Pollution: