Ajuntament de Barcelona

Populus alba var. pyramidalis

Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer Garden

    Catalan name: 
    Àlber
    Spanish name: 
    Álamo
    English name: 
    Silverleaf poplar
    Botanical synonyms: 
    Populus bolleana, Populus nivea
    Species characteristics
    Family: 
    Salicaceae
    Origin: 
    Turkestan
    Habitat: 
    Riparian forests and seasonal streams
    Characteristics: 

    Deciduous tree 20-30 m tall, with thick trunk (which is uniformely ramified from the base) and pyramid crown 5-6 m in diameter, although it can reach 10 m. At first, the bark is white and smooth and, over the time, it is cracked with blackish marks where the branches were.

    The leaves, 6-12 cm, are simples and alternate, with jagged margins. The upper side is glabrous and dark green and the lower side is very tomentose (covered by a kind of down) and whitish. Both sides become yellowish or brownish in autumn. The shape is very variated: usually, the main branches' leaves are són palmate and lobed with heart-shaped base, whereas the twigs' ones are rounded or ovate, not very lobate and less tomentose.

    The tiny flowers are grouped into hanging catkins, 3-6 cm long and woolly the masculine ones (with reddish flowers) and longer and thinner the feminine ones (with greenish yellow or pinkish flowers).

    The fruits are glabrous ovoid bilvalve capsules, de 4 mm long, which contain several seeds with a hairy pappus (structure to make the spreading easier).

    Flowering time: 
    February-April
    Fruiting time: 
    Late May
    Uses and properties: 

    Wood from the Black Poplar is used to make scultptures as well as paper paste, packaging, pavement, matches, etc. The bark is also used in tanning.

    Very popular in avenues and boulevards.

    History and curiosities: 

    The scientific name, Populus alba, consists of the genus name Populus, from the Latin populus, “poplar”, and the Latin term alba, “white”, in allusion to the white tomentum of the leaf underside. The Latin term pyramidalis, "pyramidal", which defines the variety, alludes the shape of the tree.

    The silverleaf poplar was very important in Celtic culture: its buds and leaves were considered to attract wealth and in the old druidic alphabet ogham, the silverleaf poplar (eadha in Old Irish) corresponded with the letter E.

    For further information: 

    LÓPEZ GONZÁLEZ, Ginés A. Los árboles y arbustos de la Península Ibérica e Islas Baleares. (2 vol.) Madrid: Mundi-Prensa, 2001

    THE ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY. Enciclopedia de plantas y flores. Barcelona: Grijalbo, 1996

    http://www.rhs.org.uk