Populus trees, more commonly known as Poplar trees are part of the Salicaceae (Willow) family and are native to North America. The name Populus comes from the fact that the trees were often planted around public meeting places during Roman times. The 35 different species of Populus can be divided into three main groups: the cottonwoods, the aspens, and the balsam poplars.
Populus trees have a smooth bark when young, displaying shades of white, pale green and sometimes dark grey, and often have visible lenticels, which act as a type of pore, providing an airway for the exchange of gases between the internal tissues and the atmosphere. On more mature trees, the bark usually becomes rough, developing deeper fissures and cracks.
The attractive foliage of Poplar trees displays various shades of green on the upper side of the leaves, whereas the underside boasts ghostly silver hues. These multi-toned leaves turn a warm golden yellow colour in autumn before falling in the winter. Before these leaves emerge, flowers appear as drooping catkins in early spring, followed by small fruits which mature before the leaves are fully grown. Many varieties of Poplar are grown as ornamental trees, due to their considerably fast growth rate and their interesting foliage and pretty catkins.
If you're looking for a tree steeped in history and mythology that can make a wonderful focal feature in any garden, Poplar trees are the perfect choice. Suited to most soils, you won’t struggle to find a planting site for this tree, and with a large selection of different sizes and varieties, you’re sure to find something to suit your tastes.