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Black poplar (Not recommended)

Due to susceptibility to cankers, black poplar is not recommended for planting anywhere in this region and usually require removal and/or replacement. Black poplar is difficult to find in the nursery trade due to its short-lived, weedy nature.

Botanical name:

Populus nigra

All Common Names:

black poplar

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Size Range:

  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)

Mature Height:

70-90 feet

Mature Width:

10-15 feet

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 3,
  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8,
  • Zone 9

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil,
  • Wet soil


  • Dry sites,
  • Wet sites,
  • Occasional flooding,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Clay soil

Acid Soils:

  • Tolerant

Alkaline Soils:

  • Tolerant

Salt Spray:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Intolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Tolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Tolerant

Planting Considerations:

  • Weak wood and branch structure

Ornamental Interest:

  • Fall color,
  • Attractive bark

Season of Interest:

  • Early fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Upright

Growth Rate:

  • Fast

Transplants Well:

  • Yes


  • Cavity-nesting birds,
  • Game birds,
  • Large mammals,
  • Small mammals

More Information:

Tree & Plant Care

Best growth is in moist sites, but the tree is able to tolerate some dryness.
Aggressive roots can cause damage to drainage systems.

Disease, pests, and problems

Use of this tree is limited by a serious canker disease.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Europe and northern Africa.

Bark color and texture 

Gray bark is roughly ridged an furrowed.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, alternate leaves are nearly triangular in outline; 2 to 4 inches long and wide.  Leaves are medium green, turning yellow in autumn.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Male and female flowers are on separate trees (dioecious).  Not ornamentally important.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Fruit occurs on female trees only.   Small capsules in hanging clusters.  The capsules open to release numerous seeds with fluff attached to them.

Location of Populus nigra (Black poplar (Not recommended)) at the Arboretum