The white poplar grows in moist lowland woods, sometimes by the waterside. It extends from Spain through central Europe to southern Siberia, growing to heights of up to 30 metres. It has a thick trunk topped with a broad rounded crown, and the bark is smooth and greyish, but blackish and fissured at the base. The annual shoots are covered with whitish-grey down, including the small buds. The dioecious flowers appear at the end of March and the seed capsules burst in May. The white poplar propagates also by means of root suckers growing from the lateral roots, often as far as twenty metres from the trunk.

The white poplar grows in regions with a mild climate. It requires abundant light and ample moisture, and stands up well to flood water and slightly acidic soils. It is very attractive as an open-grown tree in water meadows, and, because of its vast root system, is used also to strengthen sand dunes. In intensive forest management it is being replaced by cultivated forms of black poplars. The wood is soft, and used to make cellulose and for turnery. The pyramidal form from Turkestan, known as Populus alba pyramidalis (syn. bolleana), often makes its appearance in parks.

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