Populus Balsamifera. Balsam poplar.

Botanical name: 

Related entry: Populus tremuloides

Description: Natural Order, Salicaceae. This is a tall and handsome tree, found in the New England and Northern States, and Canada, mostly on the borders of swamps and streams.

Generic characters as in P. tremuloides. P. BALSAMIFERA: Trunk fifteen to eighteen inches in diameter. "Leaves ovate, gradually tapering and pointed, finely serrate, smooth on both sides, whitish and reticulately veined beneath. Scales [of the bud] dilated, slightly hairy. Stamens very numerous. Buds large, [an inch or two long,] varnished with a fragrant resinous matter." (Gray.) Often classed as the P. radicans.

POPULUS RADICANS (no such plant. -Henriette), a small tree, much cultivated for the agreeable fragrance of its buds in the spring, is popularly called balm of gilead. It has broader leaves than the above species, which are also on long petioles, sub-heart-shaped, serrate, whitish and reticulate-veined beneath.

Properties and Uses: The buds of these two trees are of almost identical properties, and usually appear together in market under the one common name of balm-of-gilead buds. They should be gathered in the spring, before they begin to expand; and are valued for their resinous varnish, which is sometimes collected and put upon the market as identical with The buds are of the terebinthinate balsamic character, stimulating to the mucous membranes and kidneys, slightly influencing the circulation, and acting chiefly on the respiratory passages. They promote expectoration actively, and give a tingling sensation in the bronchi and through the lungs; whence they should never be employed in recent or irritable coughs, or in any in flamed condition of the organs of respiration; but make an excellent stimulating addition to more relaxing expectorants and tonics for old coughs, and dry asthma, with pulmonic debility. For their action on the kidneys, some have spoken highly of them, but they are suited only to cases of much torpor, and then should be combined with relaxant diuretics. In purely chronic forms of rheumatism, they form a fair stimulating addition to such articles as cimicifuga and phytolacca. Heated in lard or other fat, they form a stimulating ointment, which is of good service in congested wounds and bruises, indolent sores, and rupia; and Rafinesque commends it as a local application in chronic rheumatism.

A tincture is made by macerating two ounces of the buds in a quart of seventy percent alcohol; of which from twenty to sixty drops may be given in any suitable sirup every second hour or oftener, for pectoral difficulties.

The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com