Australia > All Weeds > White Poplar

White Poplar

Populus alba

Origin: Native to Eurasia.


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and geo-cultural connections

Note the typical silver
coloring of the leaves's underside.

Alternative Name(s): Silver leaved poplar, Silver poplar

Family: Salicaceae

Known Hazards: The wind borne 'fluff' which spreads widely from the tree in spring cause respiratory irritation to some people..

Habitat: Woods and watersides.

Edibility Rating: 1 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 2 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: A decidious Tree growing to 20m by 12m at a fast rate.
Flowers: It has male and female flowers on separate trees a have been produced. After flowering in October the unfertilised female flowers become white wind borne 'fluff'.

Distinguishing features: It is distinguished by the blue grey leaves with white undersides and white bark. Leaves turn brilliant yellow in autumn and it is often grown for this feature.

Dispersal: White poplar spreads by seed and suckers, which may from dense thickets in gullies and along streams. Suckering is stimulated by soil disturbance damaging roots.

Confused with:White poplar may be mistaken for Silver birch.

Edible Uses

Leaves - rich in Vitamin C. Inner bark - dried, ground into a powder and added to flour for making bread. A famine food, it is only used when all else fails.

Medicinal Uses

Alterative; Anodyne; Antiinflammatory; Antiseptic; Astringent; Diuretic; Febrifuge; Tonic. The stem bark is anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, diuretic and tonic. The bark contains salicylates, from which the proprietary medicine aspirin is derived. It is used internally in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis, gout, lower back pains, urinary complaints, digestive and liver disorders, debility, anorexia, also to reduce fevers and relieve the pain of menstrual cramps. Externally, the bark is used to treat chilblains, haemorrhoids, infected wounds and sprains. The bark is harvested from side branches or coppiced trees and dried for later use. The leaves are used in the treatment of caries of teeth and bones. The twigs are depurative.

Other Uses

Dye; Rooting hormone; Shelterbelt; Wood. An extract of the shoots can be used as a rooting hormone for all types of cuttings. It is extracted by soaking the chopped up shoots in cold water for a day. A fairly wind resistant tree, it can be grown as part of a shelterbelt planting. A yellow dye is obtained from the bark. Wood - rather woolly in texture, without smell or taste, of low flammability, not durable, very resistant to abrasion, very light, soft, elastic. It is used for less good quality purposes such as making matches, packing materials etc.

Notes: White poplar is an environmental weed in South Africa. In Western Australia it has formed dense stands in disturbed wetlands from Perth to Albany and it is considered a threat to riparian vegetation in Victoria. It has spread along the Murrumbidgee River and in wet areas in rural parts of the ACT. It is still sold in nurseries.


Young shoots



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