Populus trichocarpa-Balm of Gilead
Description of Balm of Gilead:
It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower from Apr to May, and the seeds ripen from May to June. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Wind.The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
Needs full sun. It prefers moist soil.
In addition to being used in the composition of perfumes, balm of Gilead is used to soothe ailments of the mucous membranes. It is taken internally to ease coughs and respiratory infections. The balm is also said to relieve laryngitis and sore throats. It can also be combined with coltsfoot to make a cough suppressant.
The resin of the balsam poplar tree is collected when it seeps out of the tree during the summer months. Seepage increases when humidity levels are high. Slits may be made in the tree’s bark to collect the resin more rapidly. The bark and leaf buds are also collected. For the internal treatment of chest congestion, balm of Gilead is made into a tincture or a syrup.
Cultivation details of Balm of Gilead:
An easily grown plant, it does well in a heavy cold damp soil. Prefers a deep rich well-drained circumneutral soil, growing best in the south and east of Britain. Growth is much less on wet soils, on poor acid soils and on thin dry soils. It does not do well in exposed upland sites. It dislikes shade and is intolerant of root or branch competition. This species is of uncertain origin and only a female form is known. It is very susceptible to bacterial canker. Poplars have very extensive and aggressive root systems that can invade and damage drainage systems. Especially when grown on clay soils, they should not be planted within 12 metres of buildings since the root system can damage the building’s foundations by drying out the soil. The leaf buds, as they swell in the spring, and the young leaves have a pleasing fragrance of balsam. The fragrance is especially pronounced as the leaves unfold. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Plants are very susceptible to canker.
Propagation of Balm of Gilead:
Seed – must be sown as soon as it is ripe in spring. Poplar seed has an extremely short period of viability and needs to be sown within a few days of ripening. Surface sow or just lightly cover the seed in trays in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the cold frame. If sufficient growth is made, it might be possible to plant them out in late summer into their permanent positions, otherwise keep them in the cold frame until the following late spring and then plant them out. Most poplar species hybridize freely with each other, so the seed may not come true unless it is collected from the wild in areas with no other poplar species growing. This species is a hybrid and will not come true from seed. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, 20 – 40cm long, November/December in a sheltered outdoor bed or direct into their permanent positions. Very easy. Suckers in early spring.
Culinary: none know but if you know of one please let us know!
Medicinal uses of Balm of Gilead:
Coltsfoot, Red Sage and White Horehound combine well with it to enhance its actions on the respiratory system. Chickweed or Calendula will aid its work topically, reducing any irritation that may occur.
Preparations & Dosage of Balm of Gilead:
To make a syrup: Balm is commonly combined with equal parts of elecampane, wild cherry bark and one-half part of liquorice mixed with honey. The syrup can be taken by tablespoons as needed. For external treatment of bruises , swellings and minor skin irritations, the balm is combined with lard or oil and applied as needed. The bark, which contains traces of salicylic acid, can be combined with willow and rosemary and used as a analgesic to relieve fevers, muscle aches and arthritic pain .
Other uses of Balm Of Gilead:
Gender: Feminine. Planet: Venus. Element: Water.
Love, Manifestations, Protection, Healing. Carry the buds to mend a broken heart. Also steep them in red wine for a love potion. One of the best forms of magickal oils to be used to dress candles in magickal healing.
- Phenolic glycosides; salicin, populin (benzoyl salicin) and chrysin
- Volatile oil, the major constituent of which is [[alpha]]-caryophyllene, with cineole, arcurcumene, bisabolene, farnesene, acetophenone and others.
- Miscellaneous; alkanes, resins, phenolic acids, gallic acid tannins and other ubiquitous substances.