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White poplar (Not recommended)

White poplar has a silvery-gray bark.

White poplars have invasive traits that enable them to spread aggressively. While these trees have demonstrated invasive traits, there is insufficient supporting research to declare them so pervasive that they cannot be recommended for any planting sites. Review of risks should be undertaken before selecting these trees for planting sites. White poplar is a large, fast-growing, relatively short-lived tree for parks, golf courses and other large landscapes. Often found growing in open, moist sites along waterways. Distinctive five-lobed, dark green leaves have a white undersurface. The mature bark is gray to white with distinguishing dark diamond shape blotches. Brittle wood is prone to storm damage.

Botanical name:

Populus alba

All common names:

white poplar, silver poplar, silver-leaved 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:

40-70 feet

Mature Width:

40-70 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

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil,
  • Wet soil


  • Wet sites,
  • Occasional flooding,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Clay soil,
  • Road salt

Acid Soils:

  • Tolerant

Alkaline Soils:

  • Tolerant

Salt Spray:

  • Tolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Intolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Planting Considerations:

  • Aggressive,
  • Excessive sucker growth,
  • Messy fruit/plant parts,
  • Weak wood and branch structure

Ornamental Interest:

  • Attractive bark

Seasons of Interest:

  • early winter,
  • midwinter,
  • late winter

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Broad,
  • Round

Growth Rate:

  • Fast

Transplants Well:

  • Yes


  • Browsers,
  • Nesting birds,
  • Small mammals

More Information:

Tree & Plant Care

This can be a high maintenance tree due to weak wood and suckering.

Disease, pests, and problems

Common problems include cankers, galls, leaf spots, powdery mildew, aphids, borers and scale insects.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Europe and Asia.

Bark color and texture 

Young bark is gray-green to white and marked with small dark patches.  Older bark becomes ridged and furrowed with the ridges turning black.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

The simple, alternate leaves are dark green above and white below due to a thick coating of hairs.  Each leaf has three to five lobes.
Fall color is poor with the leaves often falling green or turning yellow-green.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Male and female flowers are on separate trees (dioecious).  Flowers are fairly inconspicuous.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Fruit are small capsules hanging in a long cluster.



Location of Populus alba (White poplar (Not recommended)) at the Arboretum