Tree Killers: White Poplar

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  • Common English name: White Poplar
  • Other names: abele, silver poplar, silverleaf poplar
  • Latin (scientific) name: Populus alba

Threat type

150x150 plants

History in Canada

  • introduced to North America from Eurasia in the mid-1700’s as an ornamental tree and widely planted across Canada
  • commonly escaped from Newfoundland to British Columbia
  • still available from nurseries


  • large deciduous tree that usually grows to 20 m (70 ft) with a widely-spreading crown
  • belongs to the Willow family
  • leaves are ‘maple-shaped’ and bright white underneath
  • young twigs are covered with dense white hairs
  • seeds are covered by a white cottony fluff that allows the wind-born seeds to spread widely although few germinate
  • reproduction is also by root suckers which are produced in abundance
  • can grow in a wide range of conditions

Impact on Trees

What can be done to control this tree killer?

  • cutting or girdling stems followed by herbicide application to the cut stems or later removal of sprouts that develop after cutting
  • herbicide application to seedlings or young saplings
  • removal of as much of the root system as possible
  • several years of control may be needed since stumps and roots can resprout one or more years after treatment

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