White poplar

White poplar

Populus alba (Salicaceae)

Common Name:

White poplar

Scientific Name:

Populus alba (Salicaceae)

Alternative common names:

Witpopulier (Afrikaans)


A deciduous tree growing up to 16m high which suckers freely with white or grey bark with horizontal lines that becomes rough and darker with age. Buds and young twigs are thickly white and woolly. The dark green leaves are shiny above and white or grey and woolly beneath. Greenish-yellow catkins appear in spring. It invades river banks, vleis and dongas.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Europe, Asia and North Africa

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

Existing legislation: CARA 2002 - Category 2 NEMBA - Category 2

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Mpumalanga Province

How does it spread?

Wind-dispersed seeds that may be carried long distances

Why is it a problem?

Competes with and replaces indigenous riverine species. Dense stands formed by suckering from the roots can narrow and block water channels, causing flooding and increased siltation. Extensive stands are likely to cause a significant reduction in stream flow

What does it look like?

General description: A deciduous tree growing 6-16m high and suckering freely. The bark is white or grey with horizontal lines, becoming rough and darker with age; buds and young twigs thickly, white woolly.
Leaves: Dark green triangular leaves with a broadly serrated profile that are shiny above and white or grey and woolly beneath.
Flowers: Greenish-yellow catkins about 50mm long appear in spring.
Fruit/Seeds: None

Does the plant have any uses?

Timber, shelter and ornament

Leave a Reply