The Poplars – 3 at least …

Populus nigra

Populus tremula

Populus candicans ‘Aurora’


There are many forms of Poplar in the UK – this is Populus nigra, the Black Poplar which I’m using to illustrate the typical structure of most Poplars. The Black Poplar makes a large tree.

Probably the most recognizable ‘Black’ Poplar variety is the Lombardy Poplar, Populus nigra’Italica’. The Lombardy poplar is a male tree, the female equivalent is Populus nigra ‘Italica Foemina’. Used commonly by Farmers and Growers as a windbreak.

Typically the buds are pointed and held close to the twig with a single scale covering the bud.

The flowers are in the form of catkins, and quite visible.

The catkins give way to clouds of white ‘cotton wool-like’ seed which, when you come across it on the ground for the first time looks like snow. Also, take note of the pointed leaf.

This is Populus tremula, the Aspen Tree. Quite a common tree across the UK, the Aspen’s leaves are much smaller and rounder than the Black Poplar, and in particular its leaf stalk, or petiole, is flattened. This creates an interesting and unmissable effect when there is a breeze blowing, as the leaves will shake and tremble. Also, this tree is one of the main staple trees for the match making industry.

Once again the Aspen sports catkins in the late winter and early spring time. They are a grey/green colour, and are particularly ‘showy’ in the weeping variety.

The autumn leaf is generally yellow, occasionally with splashes of reds and maroon. This image illustrates quite well the round leaf.

Finally, this is an interesting Poplar which is capable of delivering a quite uncharacteristically brilliant display of colour. It is a Hybrid with the Common Name of the ‘Ontario Poplar’ – Populus x candicans ‘Aurora’ . If it is grown only to a size that can easily be managed by cutting the growing branches back hard in late winter, you will be rewarded with the most extraordinary display of leaf colours that could be seen on any plant. Cream coloured leaves with splashes of pink, eventually fading to green. You’ll be hard pressed to find anything else quite like it.