White Poplar has been planted for its rapid growth and large size. Trees quickly reach 60 feet tall eventually growing to 75 feet. They adapt to many soil conditions provided they are placed in a full sun position in the landscape. Alkaline soil and salt air tolerance makes it a popular choice along the coast. It tolerates high soil salt concentrations originating from de-icing salt applications better than many other plants.
The problem with the tree is its large size, invasive roots, and dropping leaves in mid summer when the weather becomes dry. This makes for a regular raking job in the yard for several months each year. With irrigation, leaves remain on the tree until fall. This tree and the columnar cultivar `Bolleana’ are planted most often in the plains states. These trees lose limbs in storms, especially when bark becomes included in the crotch of large branches. Male trees generate copious amounts of allergenic pollen; females produce the messy, cottony fruit but no pollen.
White Poplar grows best in full sun and tolerates almost any soil, wet or dry. This is a huge tree suited for large sized landscapes. It is often planted in the drier western states as park and landscapes trees. Too big for all but the largest residential landscapes. Trees are very susceptible to damage from ice loads.
The wood is considered semi-ring porous to diffuse porous which means that there is little difference in size between the spring wood pores and the summer wood pores. Poplars are considered poor compartmentalizers of decay. This means decay can develop and spread quickly following mechanical injury from construction activities near the tree, vandalism, storm damage, or improper pruning cuts. Poplars are among those susceptible to summer branch drop in Britain. Summer branch drop is a phenomena resulting in failure and breakage of large diameter branches typically on calm summer days.
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