Populus – poplars

Poplar: types, distribution, characteristics, properties, …

The poplar is typical of the Dutch and Belgian flat landscape. The vibrating blade causes all at the slightest breath of a rushing sound. Since the 18th century, many hybrids (hybrids) because of their economic importance as wood.


Of all the poplar species, the aspen’s largest range. He comes across Europe but also in the temperate regions of Asia, China, Japan and North America. In southern areas, we find him mostly in mountain areas. He is very sensitive to shade. In the Netherlands, he was most common on sandy soil, often in forest edges and hedgerows.

Grauwe poplars grow especially in riverside forests, eg along the Danube. They rejuvenate rarely by seed, but root storage.

The black poplar is rare. He was the typical tree for the riparian forests of river banks. These riparian forests are gone almost everywhere in Europe. In Millingerwaard (NL), Ward and Emmericher Salmorth (FRG), we find some large trees. Other growth areas are in the Biesbosch, along the Dinkel in Twente and the IJssel at Zwolle. The oldest black poplar in the Low Countries, a chamber size of 9 m, capable of Neerijnen along the Rhine (Ge). In Flanders, black poplar is often planted around farmyards and pastures.

It is interesting that the aspen (English = aspen) with the willow, which in large numbers in Yellowstone Park in the U.S. occurred since the thirties but disappeared, that there were only trees, but not middle-aged. Research has shown that there is a correlation between the disappearance of the wolves (they were shot hundreds of thousands) and the disappearance of the “aspen.” Animals were prey of wolves namely wapitiherten. These have greatly increased and saplings eaten. In the nineties has been a pack of wolves in the park off (under protest from the population), and since then saplings another chance to mature.


The word populus is derived from the Greek word that means paipolos and trembling. It covers the vibrating motion of the leaves in the wind.

In ancient Rome, has been a lot of poplar trees planted. It was a popular tree, an ‘arbor populi, whose rustling of leaves in the hubbub of the people in the city seemed.

In Flanders called the large poplar also soon what relates to the rapid growth. Other names are aspen, poplar or aspen vibration, klaterabeel, witboom wife and tongue.

In Waasland called him quickly, and large males with red catkins roobotters.

Botanical characteristics

The typical trees such as poplar, which the family of willow-like hearing, the fluffy seeds, the simple leaves and scattered leaf arrangement. Unlike the willows poplars have a triangular, rhombic or almost round leaves. It’s so loose on the petiole confirmed that at the slightest breath of wind to vibrate.

Most poplars run early in the spring. The fluffy, kapokachtige seeds are in such large quantities that it seems as if it snows. The gray poplar, a soft carpet of cats are.

Poplars can quickly grow into large trees with thick trunks and a grooved bark. Old poplars can be very thick. In St.Michielsgestel (North Brabant) was a Canadian poplar with a trunk circumference of 6 m.

In Almere-Hout, 178 Lombardy poplars planted by the plan of the cathedral of Reims. This is a work of Marinus Boezem.

The oldest black poplar in the Netherlands is in the outer rear belts Musis Sacrum in Arnhem. He would have been planted between 1750 and 1800. The oldest Canadian poplar (1835) found in the battle to Bleskengraaf Heule. The thickest black poplar (Populus nigra) with a circumference at breast height of 6.70 m is in Park Groenendaal in Heemstede.


The aspen, poplar or aspen vibration (Populus tremula) is about 15 m high. The kittens are pink with silky hairs. The white, woolly seed in May by the wind blown into the air. The flat sheet steal cause the vibrating ‘rushing’ movement of the leaf in the wind.

The white poplar (Populus alba) has white, felt-like leaves and twijgtoppen. He may be 35 m high. It grows in woods, along the dune edge and along rivers in moist sandy loam and clay to form many root storage.

Related to this is the gray or gray poplar (Populus x canescens). Canescens mean gray-haired. It is a natural cross between the white poplar and aspen. Felt the hairs on the underside of the leaves is not as white as his white family. Both species are dioecious, ie a tree or just the male stamen to the female pistil kittens or cats.

The balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera), 15 m high. The crown is less columnar than those of Italian poplar and much narrower and more pointed. The male catkins are bright red, the female greenish. The leaves are round or slightly heart-shaped and dark green. The winter buds are covered with sticky resin, which is a balm smell.

Italian poplar (Populus nigra ‘Italica’) is a mutation of the black poplar. Nigra means black. He comes from Lombardy (northern Italy) and has a columnar crown because the branches obliquely upward stabbing. There are only males are known. Plus, this tree cuttings.

The Canadian poplar (Populus x canadensis) is a cross between the black poplar (Populus nigra) and the American poplar (Populus deltoides Marsh). He also briefly called the “Poplar Canada” or the “Limburg black poplar” called. Its special feature is that its leaves appear late. He has a wide, irregular crown. We see him often as’ bun-poplar. The male catkins are remarkably pink and fall off soon.


The wood of poplar is centuries as building timber truss used for farms, doors or window frames, flooring and wood paneling for the interior of railway carriages. Poplar wood is not easily ignite. It is still used in the shoe industry. Special features include a bright color, easily peeling, drying and gluing. Today, large quantities of poplar trees on the pallet – paper box production and manufacturing. Furthermore, in poplar furniture, matches, wooden utensils and toys made.

Previously, poplar leaf used to make green and yellow coloring of it. Dried leaves can serve as a winter feed for goats.

The buttons contain resin and proptosis, including medicines, ointment and tincture can be made.

The Celts used the soft but tough, white wood of poplar for making shields.


In Greek mythology, the poplar associated with the underworld, with memories and past. Poplars were dedicated to the goddess Hecate death and white poplars to Persephone, goddess of rebirth. When Orpheus Hekate’s magic wanted to teach, he burnt, to honor her, poplar wood. Hercules crowned themselves with leaves of black poplar. His sweat stained the white underside of the leaf.

The white poplar was often planted in areas where many live snakes, because this tree was the arch enemy of the snake and snake bites could heal.

Homer calls the poplar several times in his writings. For Ida cave in Crete, where Zeus spent his first day, was a sacred poplar. Medea, protector of all magical plants, often used the poplar her magic.

People use

In the Middle Ages people believed that witches used to the magic of poplar witches ointment to make it in the crowns of these trees would meet. Girls pierced holes in the trunk of poplars which she herself put her in the hope that it would grow more rapidly.

In France, they planted a poplar at the birth of a daughter. When the girl got married, he was cut. The proceeds of the timber served as a wedding gift.

A leaf of the aspen guaranteed under the tongue eloquence.

The white poplar can be years – and then submit calendar. The blade turns at the beginning of summer (June 21) from the green side to the white side (which also happens to elms and willows). As poplars in the first autumn leaf in the top lose the mild winter. First he loses the lower leaves, then we expect a severe winter.

Previously, the aspen are planted next to the bridal suite hotels. The soothing sound of the leaves, the young couple would do well.

According to one legend, the cross of Christ made of aspen wood. Since then, shaking the leaves of this tree in memory of the terrible events of the crucifixion.


Populus (botanical name.)

Poplar (English)

Peuplier (French)

Pappel (German)

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