White Poplar - Populus alba


The leaves are large, to 10cm, and maple-like with five lobes. Young leaves are covered with a white hairy down, which gradually fades from the upper surface, but is retained on the underside throughout the season. The upper surface becomes dark green, turning yellow before leaf fall in autumn. Young shoots are covered with the same white down, which is gradually worn away as the season advances. The bark is smooth and white or grey, with darker diamond-shaped marks. The flowers are catkins borne in late winter and early spring. The White Poplar is dioecious, male and female catkins being borne on separate trees. Male catkins are red, females green, the latter producing masses of fluffy seeds Which are dispersed by the wind in June.

Identification difficulty

Planted as an ornamental in parks and roadside verges, and possibly appearing spontaneously at times. It does well in damp areas.

When to see it

All year round flowering early in the year.

Life History


UK Status

Widely planted and fairly frequent in Britain.

VC55 Status

Occasional in Leicestershire and Rutland, mainly as an ornamental introduction. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 29 of the 617 tetrads.

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map