Poplar: Meaning & Usage

Often overlooked, poplars are widely found across France.


Poplars (Populus) are ornamental trees with characteristic silhouettes. They are found almost everywhere, naturally occuring or planted, throughout Europe, ranging from the Atlantic coast to Western Russia. They can be found along the banks of rivers and in wetlands.

Why plant poplars?

Poplars are a fast-growing tree, making them a useful component for forestry, especially since it's humidity toleratant. What's more, poplars play a similar role to that of willows in soil decontamination, as they dispels large quantities of water vapour. Therefore, they act as a filter between the water table and the water vapour they release into the air. This allows poplars to accumulate certain toxic products which they partially filter out, or eliminate. For example, they can absorb and break down trichloroethylene (TCE), a common groundwater pollutant in industrial and urban areas.

Poplar - Overview

Poplar - Overview

Poplar trees (Populus), belonging to the same family as willow trees (Salicaceae), are widespread in France and in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. They have a characteristic pyramidal shape and start branching from the base. They have very long, straight trunks in a grey-white colour covered in smooth or rough grey bark, marked with streaks. Their roots spread close to the surface, contorting the ground around them. They have a refined, deciduous foliage with finely serrated, spike-shaped leaves. Light green on the edges and dark green at the centre, the colour of their leaves is quite magnificent and takes on a beautiful golden hue in autumn. Their flowers form groups of male catkins with reddish stamens and more rigid females. Their berries are surrounded by a fine, cottony down which is a common allergen.
Poplars are fast growing trees. They can live for 400 years and reach up to 40 meters in height.
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Poplar - Species requirements

Poplars are suited to high exposure to sunlight. They thrive in rich, cold, and wet soil. White poplars thrive well in flooded lands, as much as in humid and dry areas, and can even grow in poor and calcareous soils. Grey poplars can put up with dry soil, even seaspray. All poplar trees cope well with air pollution.
The planting method is very different from that usually chosen for other species such as oak or Douglas fir. These examples are planted with shovels or pickaxes, using rooted saplings. Poplars, on the other hand, are planted from cuttings: 3 to 4 m long branches are used as cuttings, which are planted using crowbars. What's more, they're also planted in autumn, when the plant is at rest, as opposed to in the spring, when plantation is more difficult because the cutting requires water.

Poplar's Wood

Poplar is a versatile wood, making it useful material in a range of various outlets. It is a softwood that's easy to shape. It produces a white wood with hardly noticeable wood grain in matte or satin shades that are sought after for interior use. Poplar wood also has excellent mechanical resistance. Thanks to this useful timber, new methods of sustainable development, combining the wood's natural characteristics and technological advancements, have begun to be put into effect alongside more traditional uses.

Symbolism of the Poplar

Poplars are often referred to as the "tree of the people," coming from the Latin Populus, as important decisions were made under poplar trees. According to European tradition, they are the connection to "the Other World," to the afterlife. They are melancholic trees that carry the memory of the dead. To the Druids, poplar trees symbolized the old age of man because of their white leaves. But poplars also associated with hope and the promise of revival. They are therefore both the ideal retirement gift or one for someone who is about to begin a new chapter in his or her life.
Give a poplar as a gift! It is an original gift. Give a tree!