Trees of Wisconsin

Populus nigra L.
Lombardy poplar
Family: Salicaceae
tree twig bark

Populus nigra has a long pyramidal or nearly columnar shape with strongly up-swept branches. It was once commonly planted close together in rows as "wind breaks" or as a design feature. Leaves are simple, alternate and toothed with petioles flattened in cross-section. The lower scales of the winter buds and often the tips of the twigs are densely covered by grayish pubescence. As in many of our Populus species, the bark on young branches and small trunks is nearly smooth and grayish-green in color. Bark on larger trunks begins to split forming rough, fissured, dark gray patterns.

The trees are short-lived and the tops tend to die, detracting from the appearance. It is not commonly planted now and rarely, if ever escapes, although it may spread vegetatively where planted. Apparently only male trees have been grown in our area (in this family, the Salicaceae, each tree has only male or female flowers).

All records of Populus nigra escaping from cultivation in Wisconsin are from south of about the latitude of Lake Winnebago, but it has been planted much further north.

known Wisconsin distribution


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