White Poplar
Populus albaSalicaceae
Whole Plant
Whole PlantFlowerLeafHabitat
Photos (c) Cheryl Comeau Beaton unless otherwise noted


  • Silver poplar

The Plant:

  • A large, deciduous shade tree, 60-100 feet tall and 40-60 feet wide, with an over shape and an open, irregular crown.

The Leaves:

  • alternate
  • simple
  • lobed
  • undulate margins
  • pubescent and white below
  • petiole tomentose
  • coarsely toothed
  • dark green

The Stem:

  • white
  • showy
  • smooth
  • ridged and furrowed old bark
  • stems gray
  • dark splotches

The Flowers:

  • Yellow flowers with no petals on insignificant catkins. Flowers emerge before leaves.

The Fruits:

  • dry, brown, elongated capsule
  • 2-valved

The Habitat:

  • full sun
  • tolerant of salt, drought, and air pollution
  • prefers moist, deep, loam


  • wind-dispersed seeds may not be very viable
  • spreads vegetatively by root suckers
  • sometimes planted

Key ID Features:

  • deciduous tree, open crown
  • alternate
  • lobed
  • hairy and white below
  • toothed
  • small, light brown, tomentose buds appressed
  • white showy bark, ridged
  • stems gray with dark splotches

Similar Species:

  • Bigtooth aspen (Populus grandidentata), Quaking aspen (P. tremuloides), and Populus hybrids


  • Can form large clonal communities that can crowd out native species in edge habitats
  • Removal attempts show vigorous resprouting and spread
  • Within disturbed sites it can be very competitive and disrupt natural succession
  • Populus alba is easily broken and can damage surrounding trees or structures.
  • This is one of the most invasive plants on Nantucket. The Polpis area is very heavily invaded, even far back into the moors. Since a lot of the places it has invaded there get mowed, plants may be hard to see. It is also found at Polpis Harbor, where the forest is dominated by this species. A forest near the Loran by the Sconset Dump is infested.

Growth Form: Tree

Origin: Europe

Level of Invasiveness for Nantucket: Invasive

Level of Invasiveness for Massachusetts: Does not meet criteria

Massachusetts Cultivation Restrictions: no

Credits: The Electronic Field Guide to the Invasive Plants of Nantucket (c) 2005-2006 Maria Mitchell Association, EFG Project, UMass Boston