Populus is a genus of 25–35 species of deciduous flowering plants in
the family Salicaceae, native to most of the Northern Hemisphere.
English names variously applied to different species include poplar
/ˈpɒp.lər/, aspen, and cottonwood.
In the September 2006 issue of Science Magazine, the Joint Genome
Institute announced that the western balsam poplar (P. trichocarpa)
was the first tree whose full DNA code had been determined by DNA
3.1 Selected species
5.4 Art and literature
5.5 Susceptible to termites
5.6 Land management
6 See also
Taken near Montreal. A view of poplars by a highway ramp.
The genus has a large genetic diversity, and can grow from
15–50 m (49–164 ft) tall, with trunks up to 2.5 m
(8 ft 2 in) in diameter.
Male catkins of
Populus × canadensis
The bark on young trees is smooth, white to greenish or dark grey, and
often has conspicuous lenticels; on old trees, it remains smooth in
some species, but becomes rough and deeply fissured in others. The
shoots are stout, with (unlike in the related willows) the terminal
bud present. The leaves are spirally arranged, and vary in shape from
triangular to circular or (rarely) lobed, and with a long petiole; in
species in the sections
Populus and Aigeiros, the petioles are
laterally flattened, so that breezes easily cause the leaves to wobble
back and forth, giving the whole tree a "twinkling" appearance in a
Leaf size is very variable even on a single tree, typically
with small leaves on side shoots, and very large leaves on
strong-growing lead shoots. The leaves often turn bright gold to
yellow before they fall during autumn.
The flowers are mostly dioecious (rarely monoecious) and appear in
early spring before the leaves. They are borne in long, drooping,
sessile or pedunculate catkins produced from buds formed in the axils
of the leaves of the previous year. The flowers are each seated in a
cup-shaped disk which is borne on the base of a scale which is itself
attached to the rachis of the catkin. The scales are obovate, lobed,
and fringed, membranous, hairy or smooth, and usually caducous. The
male flowers are without calyx or corolla, and comprise a group of
four to 60 stamens inserted on a disk; filaments are short and pale
yellow; anthers are oblong, purple or red, introrse, and two-celled;
the cells open longitudinally. The female flower also has no calyx or
corolla, and comprises a single-celled ovary seated in a cup-shaped
disk. The style is short, with two to four stigmata, variously lobed,
and numerous ovules. Pollination is by wind, with the female catkins
lengthening considerably between pollination and maturity. The fruit
is a two- to four-valved dehiscent capsule, green to reddish-brown,
mature in midsummer, containing numerous minute light brown seeds
surrounded by tufts of long, soft, white hairs which aid wind
Poplars of the cottonwood section are often wetlands or riparian
trees. The aspens are among the most important boreal broadleaf
Poplars and aspens are important food plants for the larvae of a large
Lepidoptera species. Pleurotus populinus, the aspen oyster
mushroom, is found exclusively on dead wood of
Populus trees in North
Several species of
Populus in the
United Kingdom and other parts of
Europe have experienced heavy dieback; this is thought in part to be
due to Sesia apiformis which bores into the trunk of the tree during
its larval stage.
Populus on a hill through April, September, October, February
Populus has traditionally been divided into six sections on
the basis of leaf and flower characters; this classification is
followed below. Recent genetic studies have largely supported this,
confirming some previously suspected reticulate evolution due to past
hybridisation and introgression events between the groups. Some
species (noted below) had differing relationships indicated by their
nuclear DNA (paternally inherited) and chloroplast DNA sequences
(maternally inherited), a clear indication of likely hybrid origin.
Hybridisation continues to be common in the genus, with several
hybrids between species in different sections known.
Populus nigra in autumn
Populus – aspens and white poplar (circumpolar
subarctic and cool temperate, and mountains farther south, white
poplar warm temperate)
Populus adenopoda – Chinese aspen (eastern Asia)
Populus alba – white poplar (Southern Europe to central Asia)
Populus × canescens
Populus × canescens (P. alba × P. tremula) – grey poplar
Populus spp. X (see "spp.") –
Pacific albus (North America)
Populus davidiana – Korean aspen (eastern Asia)
Populus grandidentata – bigtooth aspen (Eastern North America)
Populus sieboldii – Japanese aspen (eastern Asia)
Populus tremula – aspen, common aspen, Eurasian aspen, European
aspen, quaking aspen (Europe, northern Asia)
Populus tremuloides – quaking aspen or trembling aspen (North
Populus section Aigeiros – black poplars, some of the cottonwoods
(North America, Europe, western Asia; temperate)
Populus deltoides – eastern cottonwood (Eastern North America)
Populus fremontii – Fremont cottonwood (Western North America)
Populus nigra – black poplar (Europe), placed here by nuclear DNA;
cpDNA places it in sect.
Populus × canadensis
Populus × canadensis (P. deltoides × P. nigra) – hybrid black
Populus × inopina (P. nigra × P. fremontii) – hybrid black poplar
Populus section Tacamahaca – balsam poplars (North America, Asia;
Populus angustifolia – willow-leaved poplar or narrowleaf cottonwood
(Central North America)
Populus balsamifera – Ontario balsam poplar (northern North America)
(= P. candicans, P. tacamahaca)
Populus cathayana – (northeast Asia)
Populus koreana J.Rehnder – Korean poplar (northeast Asia)
Populus laurifolia – laurel-leaf poplar (central Asia)
Populus maximowiczii A.Henry – Maximowicz' poplar, Japanese poplar
Populus simonii – Simon's poplar (northeast Asia)
Populus suaveolens Fischer – Mongolian poplar (northeast Asia)
Populus szechuanica – Sichuan poplar (northeast Asia), placed here
by nuclear DNA; cpDNA places it in sect. Aigeiros
Populus trichocarpa – western balsam poplar or black cottonwood
(western North America)
Populus tristis (northeast Asia), placed here by nuclear DNA; cpDNA
places it in sect. Aigeiros
Populus ussuriensis – Ussuri poplar (northeast Asia)
Populus yunnanensis – Yunnan poplar (east Asia)
Populus section Leucoides – necklace poplars or bigleaf poplars
(Eastern North America, eastern Asia; warm temperate)
Populus heterophylla – downy poplar (southeastern North America)
Populus lasiocarpa – Chinese necklace poplar (eastern Asia)
Populus wilsonii – Wilson's poplar (eastern Asia)
Populus section Turanga – subtropical poplars (Southwest Asia, east
Africa; subtropical to tropical)
Populus euphratica – Euphrates poplar (North Africa, southwest and
Populus ilicifolia – Tana River poplar (East Africa)
Populus section Abaso – Mexican poplars (Mexico; subtropical to
Populus guzmanantlensis (Mexico)
Populus mexicana – Mexico poplar (Mexico)
Fastigiate black poplar cultivar of the Plantierensis group, in
Poplars dominate the flora of
Khorog City Park, Gorno-Badakhshan,
Many poplars are grown as ornamental trees, with numerous cultivars
used. They have the advantage of growing to a very large size at a
rapid pace. Almost all poplars take root readily from cuttings or
where broken branches lie on the ground (they also often have
remarkable suckering abilities, and can form huge colonies from a
single original tree, such as the famous Pando forest made of
Populus tremuloides clones).
Trees with fastigiate (erect, columnar) branching are particularly
popular, and are widely grown across Europe and southwest Asia.
However, like willows, poplars have very vigorous and invasive root
systems stretching up to 40 m from the trees; planting close to
houses or ceramic water pipes may result in damaged foundations and
cracked walls and pipes due to their search for moisture.
A simple, reproducible, high-frequency micropropagation protocol in
Populus deltoides has been reported by Yadav et al.
Populus variety G48 in Punjab, India; Jhalli Farms Village
In India, the poplar is grown commercially by farmers, mainly in the
Punjab region. Common poplar varieties are:
G48 (grown in the plains of Punjab, Haryana, UP)
w22 (grown in mountainous regions, e.g., Himachal Pradesh, Pathankot,
The trees are grown from kalam or cuttings, harvested annually in
January and February, and commercially available up to
Most commonly used to make plywood,
Yamuna Nagar in
Haryana state has
a large plywood industry reliant upon poplar. It is graded according
to sizes known as "over" (over 24 inches (610 mm)), "under"
(18–24 inches (460–610 mm)), and "sokta" (less than 18 inches
Although the wood from
Populus is known as poplar wood, a common
high-quality hardwood "poplar" with a greenish colour is actually from
an unrelated genus Liriodendron.
Populus wood is a lighter, more
Its flexibility and close grain make it suitable for a number of
applications, similar to those for willow. The Greeks and Etruscans
made shields of poplar, and Pliny also recommended poplar for this
purpose. Poplar continued to be used for shield construction
through the Middle Ages and was renowned for a durability similar to
that of oak, but at a substantial reduction in weight.
In many areas, fast-growing hybrid poplars are grown on plantations
Poplar is widely used for the manufacture of paper.
It is also sold as inexpensive hardwood timber, used for pallets and
cheap plywood; more specialised uses include matchboxes and the boxes
in which Camembert cheese is sold.
Poplar wood is also widely used in the snowboard industry for the
snowboard core, because it has exceptional flexibility, and is
sometimes used in the bodies of electric guitars and drums.
Poplar wood, particularly when seasoned, makes a good hearth for a bow
Due to its high tannic acid content, the bark has been used in Europe
for tanning leather.
Poplar wood can be used to produce chopsticks or wooden shoes.
Baking moulds from peeled poplar may be used in the freezer, oven, or
Interest exists in using poplar as an energy crop for biomass, in
energy forestry systems, particularly in light of its high energy-in
to energy-out ratio, large carbon mitigation potential, and fast
Rotor poplar and willow cuttings planter, planting a new nursery of
poplar for biomass with short rotation
In the United Kingdom, poplar (as with fellow energy crop willow) is
typically grown in a short rotation coppice system for two to five
years (with single or multiple stems), then harvested and burned - the
yield of some varieties can be as high as 12 oven-dry tonnes per
hectare every year. In warmer regions like
Italy this crop can
procuce up to 13.8, 16.4 oven-dry tonnes of biomass per hectare every
year for biannual and triennial cutting cycles also showing a positive
energy balance and a high energy efficiency .
Biofuel is another option for using poplar as bioenergy supply. In the
United States, scientists studied converting short rotation coppice
poplar into sugars for biofuel (e.g. ethanol) production.
Considering the relative cheap price, the process of making biofuel
from SRC can be economic feasible, although the conversion yield from
short rotation coppice (as juvenile crops) were lower than regular
mature wood. Besides biochemical conversion, thermochemical conversion
(e.g. fast pyrolysis) was also studied for making biofuel from short
rotation coppice poplar and was found to have higher energy recovery
than that from bioconversion.
Art and literature
Poplar was the most common wood used in
Italy for panel paintings; the
Mona Lisa and most famous early renaissance Italian paintings are on
poplar. The wood is generally white, often with a slightly yellowish
Some stringed instruments are made with one-piece poplar backs; violas
made in this fashion are said to have a particularly
resonant tone. Similarly, though typically it is considered to have a
less attractive grain than the traditional sitka spruce, poplar is
beginning to be targeted by some harp luthiers as a sustainable and
even superior alternative for their sound boards: in these cases
another hardwood veneer is sometimes applied to the resonant poplar
base both for cosmetic reasons, and supposedly to fine-tune the
Two notable poems in English lament the cutting down of poplars,
William Cowper's "The Poplar Field" and Gerard Manley Hopkins' "Binsey
Poplars felled 1879".
Popular music. In Billie Holiday's Strange
Fruit lyric she sings
"Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze Strange fruit hanging
from the poplar trees…".
Ukrainian folklore symbolise beauty or loneliness of a
woman in love.
The Odd Poplars Alley, in Iași, Romania, is one of the spots where
Mihai Eminescu sought inspiration in his works (the poem "Down Where
the Lonely Poplars Grow"). In 1973, the 15 white poplars still left
(with age ranges between 233 and 371 years) were declared natural
Susceptible to termites
In Pakistan, poplar is grown on commercial level by farmers in Punjab,
Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provinces. However, all varieties are
seriously susceptible to termite attack, causing significant losses to
poplar every year. Logs of poplar are therefore also used as bait in
termite traps (termaps) for biocontrol of termites in crops.
Lombardy poplars are frequently used as a windbreak around
agricultural fields to protect against wind erosion.
Logs from the poplar provide a growing medium for shiitake
Poplar represents a suitable candidate for phytoremediation. This
plant has been successfully used to target many types of pollutants
including trace element (TEs) in soil  and sewage sludge,
Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs) , Trichloroethylene
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAHs) .
Poplar Walk, Christ Church Meadow, Oxford, England
Poplar Tree Incident
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Populus.
Wikispecies has information related to Populus
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
^ Joint Genome Institute,
^ a b c d Meikle, R. D. (1984). Willows and Poplars of Great Britain
and Ireland. BSBI Handbook No. 4. ISBN 0-901158-07-0.
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New York: Charles Scriber's Sons. pp. 410–412.
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infestations in poplar plantations at different spatial scales".
Journal of Applied Entomology.
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leaf, internode, and root segments of Eastern Cottonwood (Populus
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^  The Cambridge Companion to Archaic Greece, p.69.
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^ Dou, C; Chandler, D.; Resende, F.; Renata, R. (2017). "Fast
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^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 March 2012.
Retrieved 1 July 2011. Rees Harps Website, "
Harp Myth #8".
Iași - the county of centuries-old trees
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the Wayback Machine.
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Trace element phytoextraction from contaminated soil: a case study
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Bow and arrow
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Linden (lime, basswood)
Crown of thorns
Mortise and tenon
Tongue and groove
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Frame and panel