Growing on sites that are relatively nutrient rich and less acidic, balsam poplar has shallow, far-spreading roots. The long, sticky buds were collected in early spring by the Ojibway and cooked in fat to use as salve for cuts and bruises or to relieve nasal congestion. The thick inner white bark provided a sweet treat for Ojibway and Cree people who traditionally scraped it off the trunk in long strips during the first sap run. In the far north, poplar is the dominant hardwood tree, providing better firewood and shelter than the scrawny spruce and tamarack. At Cedar Bay, these trees provide habitat for Barred Owls and other birds and insects.