Balsam Poplar, Tacamaha, Balm of Gilead. This stately tree which is native to the steam banks and river bottoms of the west, all the way into Alaska can reach a height of 40 feet in 15 years, sometimes reaching well over 100 feet at maturity. It is a deciduous tree heavily limbed, with large triangular leaves sporting silver undersides, which shimmer in the summer breeze. It has very attractive golden fall color and the resinous buds in spring emit a perfume to the air like no other. I have had great respect for the cottonwood as a source of excellent herbal medicine for many years. The resinous buds of early spring can be collected and used as a tincture or infused oil. Used internally, cottonwood buds are an excellent remedy for respiratory congestion, particularly in the chest and can help subsequent bacterial infection. Used topically as a salve or infused oil, the resinous buds have a pronounced anti-inflammatory effect as well as being anti-microbial. Cottonwood buds have been used traditionally for centuries by native American tribes throughout the West. This valuable medicinal tree creates beautiful dappled shade and can be pruned for a sustainable herbal harvest. The cottonwood prefers a well drained soil and ample moisture, although quite drought hardy with maturity as its roots will find the aquifers. Hardy to zone 1.