Populus alba L.

white poplar, abele, silver-leaved poplar
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Populus alba
Elena Torres & Santiago Moreno
Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Populus alba: Appearance of a group of poplars in summer

Appearance of a group of poplars in summerAppearance of a group of poplars in winter; the white bark the specific epithet refers to is clearly noticeableBranch with ovate-triangular leaves (growing on short shoots) and 3-5 lobed leaves (growing on long shoots); the petioles are long and cylindricalBranch with 2 hanging proteranthous male catkins and 3 non-viscose dormant buds protected by several scalesFour leaves that have been attacked by <span class=cursiva>Anacampsis populella</span>

Populus: Ancient Latin name for poplar

albus, -a, -um: white, because of the colour of its bark and the underside of its leaves


Habit: Deciduous, dioecious tree 20-30 m tall; trunk stout, columnar with whitish-gray bark ± smooth when young; it has lenticels in the shape of horizontal grooves and usually erect branches forming a very characteristic fastigiate crown.

Leaves: alternate, deciduous, simple, petiolate, with deciduous stipules; blade 5-10 cm long, broadly ovate, irregularly 3-5-lobed, discolorous; adaxial side glabrous, dark ash-green; abaxial side densely tomentose, almost white.

Flowers: proteranthous, unisexual, small, not showy, naked, arranged in hanging catkins 5-8 cm long; male flowers with 6-10 stamens; female flowers with a syncarpous, 2-carpellate unilocular gynoecium with a superior ovary.

Fruit: oblong-conical capsule ± 4 mm long that opens into 2 valves, releasing many woolly seeds.


It flowers at the end of winter or beginning of spring, before the leaves sprout. All the individuals growing on this campus are male trees, so it is not possible to see the fruits.

Geographic origin

Native to Europe, Asia and N Africa.


It is widely planted in streets, parks and gardens. The individuals growing on this campus are of variety P. alba cv. ‘Roumi’ [=P. bolleana Lauche], the most popular in cultivation, with a pyramidal shape and a fastigiate crown.

Its abundant, strong and very hydrotropic roots can clog underground drainpipes and sewers. It also sprouts from its roots, so it is common to see many shoots around mature specimens.

At the beginning of summer it is frequent to see rolled-up leaves at the foot of the trees. This peculiar leaf loss is due to Anacampsis populella Clerk, a pest moth of the family Gelechiidae (see Picture Gallery).

It is easily propagated from seeds, hardwood cuttings or root suckers.

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