Flowering phenology and seed viability of native and non-native poplars in north-central Alberta.
In Alberta, Canada, the provincial government currently restricts the establishment of hybrid poplars to private land or small research plantings on Crown lands, because of the unknown risks associated with using non-native trees. Industry is interested in utilizing hybrid poplars on a larger scale for fibre production and reclamation. This interest has driven the need to better understand the genetic risks associated with the deployment of these non-native trees within a matrix of natural poplar stands and agricultural plantings. The first step to understanding the potential risks associated with the use of non-native poplars is to assess flowering phenology and seedling development of both native and non-native poplars growing in the same region. Flowering data were collected and graphed for 38 clones of native Populus balsamifera, 20 clones of native P. tremuloides, and 13 non-native poplar clones (seven hybrid poplar clones and six P. davidiana seedlings) in north-central Alberta. Based on the overlapping flowering patterns and the development of normal seedlings, some potential for hybridization between native and non-native poplars exists.