Black Poplar (Populus nigra)
Don't confuse the Black Poplar with poplar hybrids. Richard Mabey, in his Flora Britannica, estimates there are only 4-6,000 of these long living trees left in the country, largely as a consequence of land reclamation and drainage. Drainage schemes and the introduction of faster growing hybrids mean that Black poplars are now very rare indeed, with our remaining natural population centred around Aylesbury Vale. In Sussex there are said to be only 33 left, for example. There are so few in the countryside now that the only naturally occurring new plants are hybrids from other poplar species.
Populus nigra are very fast growing landmark trees that need the wet. The Black poplar (why "black" no-one knows) has an invasive root system, but its spreading habit means it typically leans over if left unpollarded. They not only need damp conditions to regenerate, but male and female trees also need to be close to each other. Male Black Poplars have red catkins in Spring, known in some parts as "Devil's fingers", whereas the female flowers are yellow-green. They're wind pollinated, but foodplants to several moths.
The trees were much prized in the 17th and 18th centuries for their wood, which is fire resistant and was used around fireplaces. Its open grain meant it could absorb paraffin wax and so its was used for matches, while its springiness and tendency not to splinter also meant Black Poplar wood was used for cartmaking.
Our Plants For Sale
Unusually, we can offer both the male and even rarer female trees.
Supplier : Botanica
We donate half of the profit from sales of Black poplars to The Tree Council
Prices include VAT and delivery to mainland UK
If you do not plant your Black Poplar plants on receipt, they should be unwrapped and either heeled in, or soaked in cold water for 10-15 minutes before replacing in their packaging and leaving in a cool frost free place before planting within 14 days. A small number of bare root plants will fail, but this can be considerably reduced by making sure the roots do not dry out while planting. Chose a frost and wind free damp day, and keep the whips in a bucket of water while planting out.