Native Black Poplar Trees (Populus nigra betulifolia)
Populus nigra betulifolia - Manchester Poplar
Populus nigra betulifolia is the type of Black Poplar that is usually found in Western Europe and Britain. It is very similar to its close relative Populus nigra nigra. Sometimes called the Atlantic Black Poplar, it is a deciduous, native tree with a thick trunk and branches that are covered in bristly, densely packed twigs. Some of the lower branches arch downwards, which usually tends to help form a nice circular crown, although many trees acquire a much bushier shape that has a charm all of its own.
These are sold as big trees, used for instant impact. You can also buy them when they are smaller Black Poplar saplings.
The name betulifolia means "birch leaf", which refers to the Atlantic Black Poplar's diamond shaped, lightly serrated leaves. This rough edge is one of the tree's distinguishing features: other black poplar varieties have more rounded leaves.
Older trees develop thick, gnarled trunks that often produce large burrs, which are a mass of twisted wood fibres that sticks out from the side of the tree. Burrs are generally quite rare and are are prized by craftspeople who work with wood, especially sculptors, because the swirling lines of the grain can be used to create unique and striking effects.
Historically, they were widely grown for timber because the wood is very heat resistant and was safer to use near a fireplace than other types of wood.
The number of Black Poplars has been falling steadily for many years and there are a few thousand of them left in Britain. Less than 10% of the remaining trees are female and these are increasingly hybridizing with commercially grown poplar cultivars, creating highly variable offspring. It is their ability to regrow new trees from broken branches and roots that keeps the species alive in the wild.
Black Poplar Trees: Planting, Pruning and Caring for Your Trees:
Poplars are in the same family as willow and while they won't quite tolerate being planted in a bog, they will thrive on wet soil near a river and love flood plains. Populus nigra betulifolia will grow in any rich, fertile soil type except chalk. Carry out any pruning in winter, when all the leaves have fallen. They are pollution resistant and were planted in the North so much during the industrial revolution that they came to be known as the Manchester Poplar. Black Poplars will grow to about 25 metres, 80 feet, tall and the canopy can often be a bit wider than that.
Please watch our tree planting video for full planting instructions.
How Standard Trees are Measured:
All the plants in the ornamental trees section are graded as standards, which means that they are measured by their girth in centimetres 1 metre above ground level (basically, their trunk's waist measurement). They aren't measured by their height, which will vary.
So, a 6/8 standard has a trunk with a circumference of 6-8 centimetres and an 8/10 standard has a trunk 8-10 centimetres around.
This measurement makes no difference to the tree's final height. Most standards are between 2 - 3.5 metres tall, but this is just an average. We cannot tell you how tall your trees will be before we deliver them.