Populus alba, White Poplar

Gardens & Landscapes, Invasive Species, Extension Master Gardener October 25, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Invasive Species: Populus alba, White Poplar

White poplar is an invasive tree that can grow 40 to 80 ft. (12.2 to 24.4 m) tall and 40 to 50 ft. (12.2 to 15.2 m) wide. The bark on young trees is smooth and greenish white, becoming gray and wrinkled as trees age. The leaves resemble maple leaves, but the topside of leaves is shiny, dark green while the underside is bright white and hairy. Leaves are 2 to 4 in. (5.1 to 10.2 cm) long. Flowers are inconspicuous and develop in slim, cylindrical flower clusters (catkins) before the leaves develop. Fruit are small, hairy seed pods that are spread by wind. Branches are susceptible to breakage when under stress, such as heavy snow or ice. Trees produce prolific root sprouts. White poplar is native to Eurasia and grows best in full sun.

What are invasive species and why should we be concerned about them? 


Taxonomy: Scientific and Common Names for This Species

Salicales > Salicaceae > Populus alba L.

Synonym(s): none

Populus alba - USDA PLANTS Profile

Distribution Maps

White poplar - The reported distribution of this invasive species across the United States. (Source: Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States)

Up-to-the-minute distribution maps and why they are important

Reporting This Invasive Species

What is the best way and place to report the occurrence of an invasive species? 

How to report an invasive species sighting to EDDMapS - Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System

EDDMapS - Report an invasive species to EDDMapS

Cooperative Extension Offices - Find your local Cooperative Extension office on this map provided by USDA

How to Identify

This invasive species can be identified by looking for the characteristics described in the paragraphs that follow.

Tree

An invasive tree that can grow 40 to 80 ft. (12.2 to 24.4 m) tall and 40 to 50 ft. (12.2 to 15.2 m) wide. The bark on young trees is smooth and greenish white, becoming gray and wrinkled as trees age.

white poplar

white poplar
Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, bugwood.org Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, bugwood.org

Foliage

The leaves resemble maple leaves, but the topside of leaves is shiny, dark green while the underside is bright white and hairy. Leaves are 2 to 4 in. (5.1 to 10.2 cm) long.

white poplar white poplar
Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, bugwood.org Wendy VanDyk Evans, bugwood.org

Flower

Flowers are inconspicuous and develop in slim, cylindrical flower clusters (catkins) before the leaves develop.

white poplar white poplar
Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, bugwood.org Paul Wray, Iowa State University, bugwood.org

Fruit

Fruit are small, hairy seed pods that are spread by wind.

white poplar eastern cottonwood
Zelimir Borzan , University of Zagreb, bugwood.org

Franklin Bonner, USFS (ret.), bugwood.org

Native Species That Resemble White Poplar

Populus deltoides, eastern cottonwood - Images at invasive.org

 

Populus tremuloides, quaking aspen - Images at invasive.org

Quaking aspen Quaking aspen
Paul Wray, Iowa State University, bugwood.org Paul Wray, Iowa State University, bugwood.org

 

Additional Images for White Poplar

White poplar - Images at Invasive.org

 

Learning Resources for White Poplar

Populus alba - University of Florida

White Poplar - Virginia Tech

 

Additional Information, Biology, Control and Management Resources

Control and management recommendations vary according to individual circumstances. Location, habitat, weather, and a variety of other conditions are factors that help determine the best treatment choice. To find the safest and most effective treatment for your situation, consult your state's land-grant institution. If you will use chemicals as part of the control process, always refer to the product label.

United States Land-Grant University System - Find your land-grant university's College of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, or other related partner on this map provided by USDA.

Weeds Gone Wild: Alien Plant Invaders of Natural Areas - Plant Conservation Alliance

Weed of the Week - USDA Forest Service

Invasive Plant Atlas of New England - University of Connecticut

Populus alba - UConn Plant Database

Populus alba - FloriData

Jepson Herbarium - University of California


 

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.