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A tree 50 to 60 ft high in the wild (Sargent), but, as seen in cultivation here, a low bushy-headed tree with short, much-forked, crooked branches; young shoots round, glabrous or minutely downy, especially towards the apex; winter-buds sticky, slender-pointed.. Leaves lanceolate or ovate-lanceolate, 2 to 5 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. wide, wedge-shaped at the base, tapering gradually to a point at the apex, minutely and evenly round-toothed, green on both sides, although paler beneath, glabrous except sometimes for minute down beneath; stalk ordinarily about 1⁄2 in. long. Catkins not seen in this country, but the male ones described by Sargent as 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. long, densely flowered; the female catkins are 2 to 4 in. long when mature.
Native of western N. America, but not of the Pacific side of the Rocky Mountains. It is one of the balsam group with the characteristic odour, and is distinguished by its willow-like leaves, not white beneath. In foliage it most resembles P. laurifolia, but that species has angular, more downy young shoots, and leaves pale beneath.