Populus nigra

Black Poplar
Black poplars in Poland
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Salicaceae
Genus: Populus
Section: Aigeiros
Species: P. nigra
Binomial name
Populus nigra
Distribution map

Populus nigra, the black poplar, is a species of cottonwood poplar, the type species of section Aigeiros of the genus Populus, native to Europe, southwest and central Asia, and northwest Africa.[1]

Burrs and normal bark on a black poplar tree (subspecies betulifolia) in Ayrshire, Scotland.

It is a medium-sized to large deciduous tree, reaching 20–30 m (rarely 40 m) tall, with a trunk up to 1.5 m diameter, though some old individuals have grown much bigger (more than 3 meters DBH for several trees in France). The leaves are diamond-shaped to triangular, 5–8 cm long and 6–8 cm broad, green on both surfaces.[2] The species is dioecious (male and female flowers on different plants), with flowers in catkins and pollination by wind. The black poplar grows in low-lying areas of moist ground.[3]

A fastigiate black poplar cultivar of the Plantierensis Group, in Hungary

There are three subspecies, some botanists distinguishing a fourth:[1][2]

The subspecies betulifolia is one of the rarest trees in Great Britain and Ireland,[6][7] with only about 7,000 trees known, of which only about 600 have been confirmed as female.[8]

Poplar seed tufts

Several cultivars have also been selected, these being propagated readily by cuttings:

As a widely selected species chosen by golf architects in the 1960s, it soon became apparent that the Poplar's very invasive roots destroyed land drainage systems. Decades later the same courses were removing Poplars stands wholesale. At around 40 to 50 years this short lived variety starts shedding branches and are very likely to be blown over in high winds, each successive tree lost exposing neighbouring trees creating a domino effect.

See also


  1. 1 2 Flora Europaea: Populus nigra
  2. 1 2 Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-220013-9.
  3. "Black Poplar". The Woodland Trust. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  4. Germplasm Resources Information Network: Populus nigra var. thevestina
  5. Flora of Pakistan: Populus afghanica
  6. Milne-Redhead, E. (1990). The B.S.B.I. Black Poplar survey, 1973-88. Watsonia 18: 1-5. Available online (pdf file).
  7. Arkive: Populus nigra
  8. Cooper, Fiona (2006). The Black Poplar: Ecology, History and Conservation. Windgather Press ISBN 1-905119-05-4
  9. 1 2 3 4 Bean, W. J. (1980). Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles Vol. 3. John Murray ISBN 0-7195-2427-X
  10. Stace, C. A. (1971). The Manchester Poplar. Watsonia 8: 391-393.
  11. Arboricultural Information Exchange: Manchester Poplar Disease
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