Species list


Populus alba

Silver poplar

Silver poplar, abele, silverleaf poplar, white poplar (Eng); álamo blanco, álamo (Spa); àlber (Cat); zurzuria (Baq); chopo branco, álamo branco (Glg); choupo branco, álamo-branco (Por).


DID YOU KNOW...? The Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, is painted on a board made of silver poplar.


Deciduous tree up to 25 m tall, with a straight, cylindrical trunk, and a generally wide, irregularly ovoid crown. The bark is greyish or greenish-white and fissures longitudinally with age. The leaves are alternate, wide and very variable in shape (toothed-angled or palmate-lobed), and either symmetrical or not. They are pale green on the upper side and have a characteristic whitish or silver tomentum on the underside. This poplar blooms early, between February and April. The female and male flowers appear on different plants (dioecious species) and are grouped into elongated hanging bunches (catkins). The fruits are capsules that open into two parts, or valves, when ripe releasing seeds wrapped in a cottony material that helps them be dispersed by the wind. This fluffy material, which is produced by all poplars and willows, is often, incorrectly, called pollen.


This tree likes cool, wet soils and is almost always present near water courses: seeps, springs, headwaters, or the banks of ravines with permanent water flow. It prefers low zones and does not grow at altitudes higher than 1200 m, because it is not very frost-resistant. Its dispersal strategies mean that it becomes increasingly visible in humid places on the midslopes, or medianías (zones between altitudes of 600 and 1500 m). Sometimes it is found with other species in the monteverde and humid pine forests.


This tree lives in central and southern Europe, western Asia and northern Africa. In the Canaries, the silver poplar was rapidly introduced by the Spanish conquerors and is currently established in the wild on almost all the islands, specifically La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura. It is an invasive species.