Poplar – Populus The Poplar is a spontaneous deciduous tree that is cultivated for the production of timber and …



Poplar is a spontaneous deciduous tree that is grown for the production of timber and also for ornamental purposes in public parks and private gardens.

General characteristics of Poplar

The Poplar, scientific name Populus, belongs to a large genus of plants, about 30, of the family of Salicaceae, endemic to Europe and spread spontaneously in rich and humid soils, along the banks of rivers, from the plains to the mountains up to 1200-1400 meters above sea level. Some species of Poplar are native to America and eastern countries, while others are hybrid and cultivated for the production of wood, paper and as ornamental plants.

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Poplar is generally a not very long-lived tree with an elegant and slender appearance, which grows rapidly reaching a height of about 30 meters in a few years.


Has a root system robust which, even if it is mostly superficial, keeps the tree well anchored to the ground.

The aerial part or crown has the columnar-pyramidal shape.

The trunk, erect, straight and scarcely branched, is covered with a gray bark which tends to crack in the adult specimen. The ramifications that develop almost parallel to the trunk are covered with very decorative green deciduous foliage.

The leaves of the Poplar, even if they vary according to the species, generally have an ovate shape and are inserted on the branches by means of a long peduncle. The upper page of the leaves is green while the lower one is silvery.


The leaves they have a singular characteristic: at the slightest breath of wind they vibrate emitting an unmistakable, almost musical sound. In autumn, the leaves, before falling, take on a vibrant golden-yellow hue.


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Almost all species are dioecious: the male and female flowers are carried on different plants.

THE flowers they are gathered in inflorescences or pendulous catkins. The male ones are shorter and stockier and appear before the female ones which form longer and more hanging inflorescences.

THE fruits they consist of green or reddish-brown capsules and ripen between mid-spring and mid-summer.


THE seeds, numerous and small, are light brown in color and equipped with a pappus similar to cotton wool thanks to which they are carried by the wind away from the place of production.


The poplar blooms in spring and numerous flowers appear on the bare branches, before the leaves.

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Poplar -cultivation

Poplar cultivation


The different species of Poplar can be grown in sunny or partially shaded areas and being versatile plants they adapt well to any type of climate, from mild to cold.


Even with regard to the cultivation soil, Poplar plants, although adapting to soils of various compositions, still prefer loamy or clayey substrates, rich in organic substance and above all humid for a long time.


Adult and long-established trees are content with rainwater. The young specimens, on the other hand, at least in the first 3-4 years, instead need regular and frequent water supplies, at least once a month, especially in drought periods and in summer. The frequency of watering obviously also depends on the regional climate and the type of soil. More frequent watering will be necessary in the southern regions and in case the soil is very draining.

Poplar fertilization

Even if they are rustic plants that do not have particular nutrient needs, a good fertilization is useful to stimulate their harmonious growth. In autumn, after the leaves have fallen, a supply of organic fertilizer, buried a few cm around the foot of the tree, will be sufficient.

Multiplication of poplar

The poplar propagates by seed and by agamic way very easily by cutting.

In winter, after the leaves have fallen, cuttings about 30 cm long are taken from the apexes of the lateral branches. The leaves inserted on the portions are eliminated, leaving only 2/3 apicals. The cuttings are buried for 2/3 of their length in a container full of sand which is always kept moist. The container is moved to an open place, shaded and sheltered from the wind. Once rooting has taken place, generally in the following spring, the plants that have taken root can be transferred to single pots or planted permanently.


Planting or planting

Poplar plants, especially if still very young, should be planted in late spring.

The hole that must accommodate the plant must be at least 50 cm deep and wide. It is placed on the bottom of the pelleted manure covered by 5-10 cm of soil and then the plant. More soil is added up to a few cm above the collar. Finally, a ring is made around the foot at a distance of 50-60 cm and watered abundantly.

If you want to make a hedge it is good to remember that poplars need space, therefore the plants must be placed at a distance of 2 meters from each other. To create a tree-lined avenue, instead, between one tree and another, a minimum distance of at least 4 meters must be calculated.

Pruning of the Poplar

Poplar generally should not be pruned but if you want to contain its development you can eliminate the most disordered branches, those damaged by parasites and those dry. to eliminate diseased or badly oriented branches. The best time to carry out containment pruning is spring, while dry branches can be cut at any time of the year. The tool used for pruning must be well sharpened and disinfected and the cuts must be oblique.

Pests and diseases of the Poplar

Poplar trees suffer from leaf rust, a fungal disease that manifests itself in the spring period with showy brownish spots which, extending, cause a slowdown in photosynthesis and as a direct consequence their early drying. The plant affected by rust loses its ornamental value.

If the local climate is very humid, the Poplar suffers from canker of the branches, a very serious bacterial or fungal disease which, like in other evergreen and deciduous plants, is difficult to fight.

Another enemy of the poplar is the Armillaria mellea, a fungus that first attacks the roots then gradually infiltrates the wood and other plant tissues up to causing death by necrosis.

Rust is a cryptogam that affects leaves, especially in mid-spring. It causes extensive desiccation and early drop. The plant is weakened and the aesthetic damage is considerable.

Cures and treatments

The different poplar species are low maintenance. The only care required is the summer mulching of grass or straw cuttings, in the event that the cultivation soil should be too permeable to water.

The trees infested with canker and armillaria must be cut down, burned and the soil renewed and sanitized in depth.

Variety or species of Poplar

Populus nigra

The Black poplar, a rustic tree 30 meters high with branches covered with triangular or ovate leaves with slightly notched edges. The upper page is glossy and glossy dark green, the lower one is lighter. As in other species, they turn yellow in autumn. It should be grown in humid soils. The Populus Italica variety, commonly called cypress it has a high ornamental value and is used for tree-lined avenues or for the construction of rustic hedges.

Populus Alba

The White poplar it is a species that grows up to 30 meters in height. It has a columnar crown; the leaves are ovate on the younger branches, lobed on the older ones. The upper page is shiny and green while the lower one is silvery and tomentose. It is cultivated as an isolated specimen or to create high fencing hedges or as borders of avenues.


Populus tremula

The Aspen tree it is a very rustic species up to 20 meters high which owes its name to the sound emitted by the rustle of the leaves. It has an expanded crown with broadly ovate leaves that turn from bronze when young as they develop to gray-green. This poplar is more resistant to drought and therefore suitable for growing in the southern regions as an isolated specimen or for making hedges.


Populus x canadensis

Commonly called Poplar of Canada is a hybrid species obtained from the crossing between Populus deltoides and Populus nigra. It reaches a height of 30 meters and has a wide columnar crown. The bark is light gray; the very decorative leaves are triangular and shiny green

Populus x candicans

A hybrid poplar native to the northeastern United States. It has dark green ovate leaves streaked with pink, white, yellow or cream. The color is most pronounced at the beginning of the season on young, fast growing shoots. It is a fast growing species that should be cultivated in full sun in seasonally humid soils.

Populus x canescens

The cat poplar, gray or canescent poplar, is a hybrid between the male individuals of Populus tremula and the female ones of Populus alba. In full development it reaches a height of 30 meters. It has deciduous, simple round-rhomboid leaves with obtuse toothed margins, greyish-white underneath. It is a dioecious species that produces capsules that release feathery seeds in June. It is widely cultivated for the quality of the wood.


Uses of Poplar

In gardening, Poplar trees are used to create green areas in public parks, tree-lined streets of urban streets, tree-lined mountain paths and shady areas in spacious gardens.

As an extensive crop for timber production. The…

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