Herb: Balm Of Gilead


Latin name: Populus x jackii


Synonyms: Populus balsamifera candicans, Populus x gileadensis


Family: Salicaceae (Willow Family)



Medicinal use of Balm Of Gilead:

Balm of Gilead is a common ingredient of cough medicines, its expectorant, antiseptic and analgesic actions making it an excellent remedy for a range of respiratory problems. It has also been used for several thousand years to soothe inflamed or irritated skin. The leaf buds are covered with a resinous sap that has a strong turpentine odour and a bitter taste. They also contain salicin, a glycoside that probably decomposes into salicylic acid (aspirin) in the body. The buds are antiscorbutic, antiseptic, balsamic, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant and tonic. They are taken internally in the treatment of bronchitis, sore throats, dry irritable coughs and other upper respiratory tract infections. They should not be prescribed to patients who are sensitive to aspirin. Externally, the buds are used to treat colds, sinusitis, arthritis, rheumatism, muscular pain, grazes, small wounds and dry skin conditions. They can be put in hot water and used as an inhalant to relieve congested nasal passages. Internal use of the plant is believed to reduce milk flow in nursing mothers. The buds are harvested in the spring before they open and are dried for later use. Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the bark of most, if not all members of the genus contain salicin, a glycoside that probably decomposes into salicylic acid (aspirin) in the body. The bark is therefore anodyne, anti-inflammatory and febrifuge. It is used especially in treating rheumatism and fevers, and also to relieve the pain of menstrual cramps.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Tree

Height:
30 m
(98 feet)

Flovering:
April


Scent:
Scented
Tree

Habitat of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Other uses of Balm Of Gilead:

An extract of the shoots can be used as a rooting hormone for all types of cuttings. It is extracted by soaking the chopped up shoots in cold water for a day. The dried leaf buds are added to pot-pourri. Wood - soft, rather woolly in texture, without smell or taste, of low flammability, not durable, very resistant to abrasion. It weighs about 24lb per cubic foot.

Propagation of the herb:

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.

Cultivation of Balm Of Gilead:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Known hazards of Populus x jackii:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.