|Balsam poplars c. 0.5 mi west of the Happy Jack Trailhead, Laramie Mountains.|
Last month I didn't post a tree following report because when I got home from my travels and checked my tree, I realized ... I had chosen a dead tree! It had no leaves at all, in July. I looked around for another balsam poplar, but all I found were young saplings. What to do? Choose another kind of tree? I couldn't decide.
Several weeks later, on one of my regular summer hiking trails in the same general area, I was stopped in my tracks by ... a grove of balsam poplars! (photo above). Why had I never noticed them? Populus balsamifera is an uncommon species here, an outlier from its main range to the north. My only excuse is that the trail was a bit rocky and I had to watch my feet. However, the stand continued for some distance, to where the trail was smooth.
|Leafy healthy trees.|
|Balsam poplar leaves are broadly lance-shaped, dark green above, noticeably paler beneath.|
Further along the trail was an excellent view of the grove, from the west. It includes several tree species, but they don't seem to mix within the stand, maybe because aspen are clonal, and balsam poplars can spread by suckering.
|Note balsam poplar suckers invading the meadow.|
|See what I mean? How to choose?|
|Two more poplars, with a stand of quaking aspen behind.|
|Stout and gnarled.|
|This cut branch is twenty feet off the ground (measured with hand-span technology).|