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Plant Families / Populus - Poplars


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Populus - Poplars

Populus, commonly called Poplars, Cottonwoods, and Aspens, are fast-growing and tough deciduous trees of great beauty. Many have great fall color, striking bark and statuesque growth habit. Spectacular assets in the garden, they can be a curse too. Most poplars will sucker. They are subject to pests and diseases. Their vigorous root system can heave pavement and clog drainage lines (avoid planting them near buildings). But to many gardeners, their remarkable beauty outweighs these issues.

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Populus alba (White Poplar)

Fast-growing, Populus alba (White Poplar) is an a wide-spreading, suckering, deciduous tree with a broad crown boasting an attractive foliage of 3-5 lobed leaves, up to 5 in. long (12 cm), lustrous dark green above and white and downy underneath. The fuzzy undersides make the tree sparkle when the breeze stirs the leaves, creating a beautiful two-toned effect.

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Populus deltoides (Eastern Cottonwood)

Fast-growing, Populus deltoides (Eastern Cottonwood) is an upright-spreading, vase-shaped deciduous tree with glossy, dark green, deltoid leaves, up to 5 in. long (12 cm), which may turn a lovely yellow in fall. On mature trees, the ash-gray bark is divided into thick, flattened ridges, separated by deep fissures.

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Populus nigra 'Italica' (Lombardy Poplar)

Tall and statuesque, Populus nigra 'Italica' (Lombardy Poplar) is a large, vigorous, narrowly columnar deciduous tree with exceedingly upright-reaching branches. This male selection of the European native Populus nigra is believed to have originated in Italy in the late 1600s. Its foliage of bright green ovate leaves, up to 4 in. long (10 cm), turns brilliant yellow in fall.

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Populus tremula (European Aspen)

Populus tremula (European Aspen) is a large deciduous tree adorned with a broad crown boasting rounded, coarsely toothed leaves, up to 3 in. long (7 cm). Emerging copper-bronze, they mature to gray-green before turning brilliant yellow in the fall. They flutter and tremble in the slightest breeze, constantly moving and rustling, so that trees can often be heard but not seen.

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Populus tremuloides (American Aspen)

Populus tremuloides (American Aspen) is a medium sized deciduous tree of softly pyramidal habit with a narrow, rounded crown boasting rounded, finely toothed, lustrous dark green leaves, up to 3 in. long (7 cm). They turn brilliant golden-yellow in the fall. The leaves have a flattened petiole which allows them to flutter and tremble in the slightest breeze, constantly moving and rustling, so that trees can often be heard but not seen.

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