Populus alba L.

White Poplar

Broad-crowned tree to 30 m tall with rough bark only on old trunks. Young twigs and buds white-hairy. Leaves 3-5 lobed and 12-15 cm long on the strong young shoots, coarsely dentate, dark green above, white-hairy below; on short shoots smaller and greyer about 5 cm long, oval-elliptic, wavy-toothed, golden in autumn. Leaf stalks mostly 1.5-4 cm long, white hairy. Catkins 5-8 cm long, the scales hardly laciniate.

C & S Europe to N Africa & C Asia

Naturalised in Vic, NSW and SA on low-lying damp ground and river­banks; 19th century plantings are spreading, female, and strongly suckering.

Old trees are prone to dieback.

Additional clones have been introduced in the last 40-50 years-one from the village of Maktar in Tunisia is an upright male tree with a good stem form. Another from Morocco is a larger female clone with a spreading habit: both sucker and are planted in Canberra.

Populus alba (as seen, for example, in the cultivar 'Pyramidalis'), has mature leaves palmate with a pure white felt below. Where rounder leaves that are greyish below occur on mature branches the hybrid P. ×canescens is more likely; P. ×canescens has for many years been incorrectly referred to as P. alba by horticulturists.

Specimens NSW: Orange (City Information Centre). ACT: Kings Ave, Canberra Ave. VIC: Terang; Castlemaine (Castlemaine Botanical Gardens).; Moonee Ponds (Queens Park). TAS: Richmond (by Australia's first bridge built in 1823 although the trees are much younger); Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.

Source: Spencer, R. (1997). Salicaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

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Distribution map

Populus alba 'Pyramidalis'

Narrowly conical tree with habit like the Lombardy Poplar, inclined to sucker. Leaves more deeply lobed and often larger than those of the species. Trees observed in Victoria are male.

Origin uncertain but cultivated in Europe by the 1870s. [P. bolleana Carrière, 'Bolleana']

Specimens ACT: (corner Brisbane and Wentworth Avenues). Vic: Carlton (Solly Ave); Melbourne (Kings Domain, several adjacent to Domain Rd.); Terang; Ballarat (Avenue of Honour); Toorak (Albany Rd, private res.). Tas: Launceston (Arbour Park, Tamar Highway, Inveresk, an avenue).

Populus alba 'Richardii'

Leaves are yellow on the upper surface.

It was certainly cultivated in SE Australia in the past; its but no mature living specimens are known in the region.

kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Rosanae
order      Malpighiales
family       Salicaceae
genus        Populus L.