Populus nigra (Black or water poplar)

Populus nigra the black or water poplar is Britain’s rarest native timber tree found alongside waterways in the UK.

The black poplar is also found in Southern, Central and East Europe, North Africa and eastwards to Central Asia the Black or Water Poplar is almost certainly native to lowland England.

Black poplar trees can live for over 250 years and there are historical records of trees approaching 300 years of age (White, 1993). 

A virulent disease Poplar scab has hit Populus nigra and generally takes around 3 years to kill a tree. The infection is caused by a fungal disease called Venturia populina, or its asexual stage Pollaccia elegans

A shortage of male trees and a changes in conditions necessary for germination and early establishment have also made natural sexual regeneration is extremely uncommon.

Nationally is no special legislation to protect this species. The concerns over increasing threats and ongoing decline mean however that many local Biodiversity Action Plans have now adopted this species for targeted conservation.

Species detail

  • populus
    Taxonomy

    Three sub-species of black poplar with a broadly geographical as well as morphological basis are recognised in Europe, largely discriminated on the nature and extent of their hairiness, there is however considerable overlap. 

  • Pemphigus populinigrae
    Distribution

     Black or Water poplar are found in Southern, Central and East Europe, North Africa and eastwards to Central Asia the Black or Water Poplar is almost certainly native to lowland England. Find out more about where  you can find them in the UK and what sort of habitat they prefer.

  • Populus nigra
    Biology

    Black poplar trees can live for over 250 years and there are historical records of extant trees approaching 300 years of age (White, 1993). Natural sexual regeneration is thus extremely uncommon, not least because the conditions necessary for germination and early establishment are rarely present. Find out more.

  • populus-nigra
    Disease

    A virulent disease Poplar scab has hit Populus nigra and in particular a male clone, the Manchester Poplar; this in most cases leads to death over a three year period. The infection is caused by a fungal disease called Venturia populina, or its asexual stage Pollaccia elegans. Find out more.

  • Pemphigus spyrothecae – Walthamstow
    Conservation

     The Black poplar is Britain’s rarest native timber tree, nationally there exists no special legislation to protect this species and for a long time it was overlooked (Mabey, 1996). The concerns over increasing threats and ongoing decline mean however that many local Biodiversity Action Plans have now adopted this species for targeted conservation action.

  • populus-nigra
    References

    Find reference material for Populus nigra.

  • Populus nigra
    Description

    Black poplar trees are robust dioecious tree to 35m tall with a wide rounded crown. Find out more about their features so you can identify these rare trees.