balsam tree n
1 = balsam poplar n.
1680 in 1701 Royal Soc. London Philos. Trans. 22.809 VA, There is a Tree in the lower parts of this Country called the Balsam Tree, whose Leaves both in smell and shape resemble those of Black Poplar. The People there call it Balsam, and make use of it for Green Wounds, &c. 1785 Marshall Arbustrum 107, Populus balsamifera. Balsam, or Tacamahac-Tree. 1830 New Engl. Farmer (Fessenden) 9.74, Balsam tree, Balsam Poplar, or Tacmahac, is a remarkably fast growing tree, gives a fine shade, and yields a rich balsamic fragrance. 1861 OH State Bd. Ag. Annual Rept. for 1860 278, List of Native Forest Trees in Ohio. . . Populus . . balsamifera . . Balsam tree. 1874 Wilkes et al. U.S. Explor. Exped. 17.469 OR, Populus balsamifera. . . This is called Balsam Tree and Balsam Poplar in Oregon, where it is frequent, and ranks among the tallest of the deciduous trees. 1928 Waterloo Eve. Courier & Waterloo Daily Reporter (IA) 20 Oct 2/5, Buds forming on a balsam tree . . , just as if this were springtime instead of autumn, is a phenomenon which John F. Dietz . . says he has never noted before. . . The buds are swollen and will in a few days, without severe freezing, burst into leaves.
2 = sweet gum n.
1769 Stork Descr. East FL 15, Balsam-tree, of the same size and with leaves like the sycamore tree in England, yields the true balsam of Tolu.
3 Any of var firs (genus Abies). Cf balsam fir n
1822 Eaton Botany 391, Pinus. . . balsamea . . fir tree, balsam tree. 1832 (1899) Wyeth Corresp. & Jrls. 159, On the highest point we had snow accompanied with heavy thunder and being out of meat fed upon the inner bark of the Balsam trees a tree similar if not the same with the Eastern Balsam. 1886 Boston Daily Globe (MA) 2 Oct 4/8, [Advt:] Fir Balsam Pillows, the latest craze, made from the twigs, leaves and buds of the Balsam tree; put up in four sizes. 1897 Sudworth Arborescent Flora 53, Abies lasiocarpa. . . Oregon Balsam Tree (Cal.). Ibid 55, Abies concolor. . . Balsam Tree (Idaho). 1925 Bluefield Daily Telegraph (WV) 3 May sec 3 6/2, The balsam tree grows to be a very pretty size in Thompson Valley, and Mr. Logan decided it would be nice to plant several of them in the yard of the Methodist parsonage here. 1952 Escanaba Daily Press (MI) 19 Dec 4/7, The balsam tree is most sought after at Christmastime, perhaps because its twigs resemble crosses. 1988 Jrl. Tribune (Biddeford ME) 1 Dec 3/4, A 30-foot balsam tree . . now dominates Dock Square. It’s decorated . . with lobster buoys and a 3-foot-long lobster cutout. 2008 WI State Jrl. (Madison) 9 Mar sec H 6/4, We spotted a 3-inch diameter balsam tree that had been rubbed down to its cambium the previous fall by a white-tailed buck.