Content Detail

White poplars have invasive traits that enable them to spread aggressively. While these trees have demonstrated invasive traits, there is insufficient supporting research to declare them so pervasive that they cannot be recommended for any planting sites. Review of the risks should be undertaken before selecting these trees for planting sites. White poplar is a large, fast-growing, relatively short-lived tree for parks, golf courses, and other large landscapes. They are often found growing in open, moist sites along waterways. Distinctive five-lobed, dark green leaves have a white undersurface. The mature bark is gray to white with distinguishing dark diamond shape blotches. Its brittle wood is prone to storm damage.

  • Family (English) Willow
  • Family (botanic) Salicaceae
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 40-70 feet
  • Mature width 40-70 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil, Wet soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, clay soil, Occasional flooding, Road salt, Wet sites
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Broad, Round
  • Growth rate Fast
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Planting considerations Aggressive, Excessive sucker growth, Messy fruit/plant parts, Weak wood and branch structure
  • Wildlife Browsers, Nesting birds, Small mammals
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat: 

White poplar is native to Europe and Asia.

Bark color and texture: 

The young bark is gray-green to white and marked with small dark patches. Older bark becomes ridged and furrowed, with the ridges turning black.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture: 

The simple, alternate leaves are dark green above and white below due to a thick coating of hairs. Each leaf has three to five lobes. The fall color is poor, with the leaves often falling green or turning yellow-green.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

The male and female flowers are on separate trees (dioecious). The flowers are fairly inconspicuous.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

The fruit are small capsules hanging in a long cluster.


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