Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Populus alba
(silver-leaf poplar)

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Datasheet

Populus alba (silver-leaf poplar)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 08 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Populus alba
  • Preferred Common Name
  • silver-leaf poplar
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • P. alba is a fast-growing tree utilized as an ornamental or in afforestation and reforestation for its resistance to drought, salt and borers (

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Italy
TitleNatural stand
CaptionItaly
CopyrightIstituto di Sperimentazione per la Pioppicoltura
Italy
Natural standItalyIstituto di Sperimentazione per la Pioppicoltura
25-year-old trees in early Spring. Casale Monferrato, Italy.
Title25-year-old trees
Caption25-year-old trees in early Spring. Casale Monferrato, Italy.
CopyrightIstituto di Sperimentazione per la Pioppicoltura
25-year-old trees in early Spring. Casale Monferrato, Italy.
25-year-old trees25-year-old trees in early Spring. Casale Monferrato, Italy.Istituto di Sperimentazione per la Pioppicoltura
P. alba cv. 'Villafranca' 12-year-old tree bark. Casale Monferrato, Italy.
TitleBark
CaptionP. alba cv. 'Villafranca' 12-year-old tree bark. Casale Monferrato, Italy.
CopyrightIstituto di Sperimentazione per la Pioppicoltura
P. alba cv. 'Villafranca' 12-year-old tree bark. Casale Monferrato, Italy.
BarkP. alba cv. 'Villafranca' 12-year-old tree bark. Casale Monferrato, Italy.Istituto di Sperimentazione per la Pioppicoltura
P. alba cv. 'Villafranca' leaves.
TitleFoliage
CaptionP. alba cv. 'Villafranca' leaves.
CopyrightIstituto di Sperimentazione per la Pioppicoltura
P. alba cv. 'Villafranca' leaves.
FoliageP. alba cv. 'Villafranca' leaves.Istituto di Sperimentazione per la Pioppicoltura
Female catkins, P. alba cv. 'Villafranca'.
TitleCatkins
CaptionFemale catkins, P. alba cv. 'Villafranca'.
CopyrightIstituto di Sperimentazione per la Pioppicoltura
Female catkins, P. alba cv. 'Villafranca'.
CatkinsFemale catkins, P. alba cv. 'Villafranca'.Istituto di Sperimentazione per la Pioppicoltura

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Populus alba L.

Preferred Common Name

  • silver-leaf poplar

Variety

  • Populus alba var. hickeliana
  • Populus alba var. pyramidalis Bunge
  • Populus alba var. subintegerrima Lange

Other Scientific Names

  • Populus alba var. bolleana (Lauche) Ed. Otto
  • Populus alba var. croatica Wesm.
  • Populus alba var. nivea Aiton
  • Populus bolleana Lauche

International Common Names

  • English: white poplar
  • Spanish: álamo blanco; chopo blanco
  • French: peuplier blanc; peuplier de hollande
  • Portuguese: choupo branco

Local Common Names

  • Canada: silver poplar
  • China: xin bai yang
  • Denmark: solvpoppel
  • Germany: Silberpappel; Weisspappel
  • Italy: gattice; pioppo bianco
  • Japan: gin-doro; gin-doro hakuyo; hakuyo; urajiro-hako-yanagi
  • Netherlands: witte abeel
  • South Africa: witpopulier
  • Sweden: silverpoppel
  • Turkey: akkavak
  • USA: European white poplar; silver poplar

EPPO code

  • POPAL (Populus alba)

Summary of Invasiveness

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P. alba is a fast-growing tree utilized as an ornamental or in afforestation and reforestation for its resistance to drought, salt and borers (Sekawin, 1975; Jobling, 1990). It is not as important as poplar species of the Section Aigeiros, but its adaptation to warm conditions allows it to be cultivated in Mediterranean regions and in Central Asia. It is also utilized in interspecific breeding programmes to introduce the rooting ability of stem cuttings in other species of the Section Populus, particularly in P. tremula and North American aspens (Heimburger, 1968; Zsuffa, 1975). P. alba is suitable for tissue culture and Agrobacterium transformation.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Salicales
  •                         Family: Salicaceae
  •                             Genus: Populus
  •                                 Species: Populus alba

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The systematics of P. alba are intricate, as spontaneous hybridization with other species in Populus, Section Populus (P.tremula and other aspens) makes it difficult to separate pure species from hybrids. Bugala (1960) divided P. alba into five varieties, Fiori (1969) described eight; and others have considered these as separate species, with the subdivision by Dickmann and Stuart (1983) being generally accepted. From recent genetic analysis it seems that the var. tomentosa is a hybrid of P. alba and P. adenopoda (Li et al., 1997). A number of sub-generic taxa and their synonyms are included in Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2008). The fastigiate form P. alba var. pyramidalis is treated in the Forestry Compendium in a separate data sheet. A better discrimination of poplar species will be possible in the future utilizing molecular techniques (Castiglione et al., 1993; Culot et al., 1995; Sanchez et al., 1998).

Description

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The crown is broad and rounded, or pyramidal in var. pyramidalis. At maturity, it can reach a height of 30 m and a stem diameter in excess 100 cm, and the smooth, greenish-white bark becomes dark and rough on older trees. The trunk is straight, at times sinuous, with large branches inserted irregularly, which often bifurcate. The root system is lateral, shallow but expansive; the bark is grey-white, rough at the base in older trees only. It tends to produce abundant root suckers. It can live to 300-400 years old (Allegri, 1971). Leaves of long shoots are 6-12 cm long, relatively deeply lobed and palmate, the 3-5 lobes are coarsely dentate, the base is rounded-cordate, dark green above and white tomentose beneath; leaves of short shoots are smaller, oval-elliptic, sinuately dentate. Petioles are rounded and pubescent, 3-4 cm long. The staminate catkins are usually reddish, 5-8 cm long with 10-20 stamens; the fruiting catkins are 10-15 cm long; the capsules are bivalved; the pedicels are slender, 3-5 cm long.

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Perennial
Seed propagated
Tree
Vegetatively propagated
Woody

Distribution

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P. alba has a large native range from Morocco to China, including central and southern Europe, North Africa, Western and Central Asia (Allegri, 1967; Nevidomov, 1994; Modir-Rahmati, 1997).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes

Asia

AfghanistanPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
ArmeniaPresent Natural CABI, 2005
AzerbaijanPresent Natural CABI, 2005
ChinaLocalisedNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
-GansuPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-HebeiPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-HenanPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-JiangsuPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-LiaoningPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-Nei MengguPresent Planted CABI, 2005
-NingxiaPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-QinghaiPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-ShaanxiPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-ShandongPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-ShanxiPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
-XinjiangPresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
IndiaLocalisedIntroduced Not invasive Ramesh and Khurana, 2006Northern India
-Himachal PradeshPresentIntroduced Not invasive Planted, NaturalRamesh and Khurana, 2006
-Jammu and KashmirPresentIntroduced Not invasive Planted, NaturalRamesh and Khurana, 2006
IranPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
IraqPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
IsraelPresent Natural CABI, 2005
JapanPresent Planted CABI, 2005
JordanPresent Natural CABI, 2005
KazakhstanPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
Korea, Republic ofPresent Planted CABI, 2005
LebanonPresent Natural CABI, 2005
PakistanPresent Natural CABI, 2005
SyriaPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
TajikistanPresent Natural CABI, 2005
TurkeyPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
TurkmenistanPresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
UzbekistanPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008

Africa

AlgeriaPresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
EgyptPresent Natural CABI, 2005
MoroccoPresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
South AfricaPresentIntroduced Invasive Haysom and Murphy, 2003
Spain
-Canary IslandsPresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
TunisiaPresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008

North America

CanadaPresentIntroduced Invasive Haysom and Murphy, 2003
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2008
-ManitobaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2008
-New BrunswickPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2008
-Nova ScotiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2008
-OntarioPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2008
-Prince Edward IslandPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2008
-QuebecPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2008
MexicoPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
USAPresentIntroduced Invasive Haysom and Murphy, 2003
-AlabamaPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-ArkansasPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-ColoradoPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-ConnecticutPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-DelawarePresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-FloridaPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-GeorgiaPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-IdahoPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2008
-IllinoisPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-IndianaPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-IowaPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-KansasPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-KentuckyPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-LouisianaPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-MainePresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-MarylandPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-MassachusettsPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-MichiganPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-MinnesotaPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-MississippiPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-MissouriPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-MontanaPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-NebraskaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2008
-NevadaPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-New HampshirePresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-New JerseyPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-New MexicoPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-New YorkPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-North CarolinaPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-North DakotaPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-OhioPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-OklahomaPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-OregonPresentIntroduced Invasive Haysom and Murphy, 2003; USDA-NRCS, 2008
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-Rhode IslandPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-South CarolinaPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-South DakotaPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-TennesseePresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-TexasPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-UtahPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-VermontPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-VirginiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Haysom and Murphy, 2003; USDA-NRCS, 2008
-WashingtonPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2008
-West VirginiaPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-WisconsinPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008
-WyomingPresentIntroduced Natural USDA-NRCS, 2008

Central America and Caribbean

GuatemalaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008

South America

ArgentinaPresent Planted CABI, 2005
BoliviaPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
BrazilPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-ParanaPresent Planted CABI, 2005
ChilePresent Planted CABI, 2005

Europe

AlbaniaPresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
AndorraPresent Natural CABI, 2005
AustriaPresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
BelarusPresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
BelgiumPresent Natural CABI, 2005
Bosnia-HercegovinaPresent Natural CABI, 2005
BulgariaPresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
CroatiaPresent Natural CABI, 2005
CyprusPresent Planted CABI, 2005
Czech RepublicPresent Natural CABI, 2005
Czechoslovakia (former)PresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
DenmarkPresent Natural CABI, 2005
FrancePresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
-CorsicaPresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
GermanyPresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
GreecePresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
HungaryPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
ItalyPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
LuxembourgPresent Natural CABI, 2005
MacedoniaPresent Natural CABI, 2005
MaltaPresent Natural CABI, 2005
MoldovaPresent Natural CABI, 2005
NetherlandsPresent Natural CABI, 2005
PolandPresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
PortugalPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-AzoresPresentIntroduced Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008Naturalised
RomaniaPresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
Russian FederationPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
-Central RussiaPresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
-Southern RussiaPresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
-Western SiberiaPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
San MarinoPresent Natural CABI, 2005
SerbiaPresent Natural CABI, 2005
SlovakiaPresent Natural CABI, 2005
SloveniaPresent Natural CABI, 2005
SpainPresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
SwedenUnconfirmed recordCAB Abstracts
SwitzerlandPresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
UKPresent Natural CABI, 2005
UkrainePresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008
Yugoslavia (former)PresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroduced Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008Naturalised
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedRoyal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2008
-South AustraliaPresentIntroducedRoyal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2008
-VictoriaPresentIntroducedRoyal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2008
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroduced Planted Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2008
New ZealandPresentIntroducedHaysom and Murphy, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2008

History of Introduction and Spread

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It has been introduced into North America, South America, Australia, South Africa and Korea, mostly as an ornamental tree and now appears to have become naturalized in many areas and/or invasive (Streets, 1962; Dickman and Stuart, 1982). In Australia, it is restricted largely to the south coast. It is invasive in South Africa along with several other Populus spp., and invasive in New Zealand, Canada and parts of the USA (Haysom and Murphy, 2003). It is likely to be more widespread than indicated.

Risk of Introduction

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It has become a weed in many states of the <_st13a_country-region _w3a_st="on"><_st13a_place _w3a_st="on">USA and planting is no longer recommended.

Habitat

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P. alba can be found spontaneously along river valleys in its expansive native range around the Mediterranean and in central Asia (Allegri, 1967; Nevidomov, 1994; Modir-Rahmati, 1997). P. alba is also cultivated in river valleys where the poplars of the section Aigeiros do not perform well. It is utilized in saline and calcareous soils and as windbreaks for salt wind near coasts (Cuevas et al., 1997). It is invasive in agricultural areas, natural forests, natural grasslands as well as riversides, establishing most rapidly in full sunlight. P. albacan aggressively invade natural areas, especially prairie communities, shading out native vegetation. It easily escapes cultivation and, if left unchecked, it can form dense groves that are hard to eradicate (Glass, 1990).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

Qi et al. (2005) assessed the chromosome numbers of a number of Populus taxa, noting P. alba having 2n=28, and P. alba var. pyramidalis and var. bolleana with 2n=38, as had all other the taxa tested. P. alba has some desirable characteristics, such as tolerance to drought, salt and borers, and easy vegetative propagation, justifying its introduction in several breeding programmes, particularly in Mediterranean regions and Western and Central Asia. Populations were well differentiated by molecular markers according to their geographic provenance (Pagnotta et al., 1998). Collection and selection of natural clones has been carried out in Spain (Alba, 1992) and Hungary (Toth, 1996), and of drought tolerant clones of vars. hickeliana, subintegerrima and microphylla in Morocco, and a fastigiate and frost resistant cultivar in Russia (Sekawin, 1975). The cultivars ‘Kabudeh Schirazih’' and ‘Kabudeh Bumi’ are cultivated in Iran, the cultivar ‘Ankara AT’ in Turkey and ‘Villafranca’ in Italy and Hungary. P. alba var. pyramidalis ‘Bolleana’ has been cultivated in Western Europe and in Argentina (Jobling, 1990). P. alba can hybridize with all species of section Populus, sometimes spontaneously, for example the grey poplar P. canescens is considered to be a natural hybrid of P. alba and P. tremula, occurring where the range of the two species overlaps. Hybridization with species of other sections of Populus is also possible (Sekawin, 1975). P. alba has been the subject of intensive selection, artificial hybridisation, cloning and genetic modification.
 
Reproductive Biology

P. alba
is a deciduous, dioecious tree. Flowering begins in early spring, before leaf emergence, and fruits mature 6-8 weeks later.
 
Physiology and Phenology

Seeds germinate better when not covered with soils. For propagation and raising of planting stock, refer to Stanton and Villar (1996). P. alba can also be vegetatively propagated using stem cuttings 30-35 cm long (Dragomir and Duran, 1959). In countries where the species is cultivated P. alba is planted in soil which is not suitable for other poplar species (such as P. canadensis): for example, where the water table is inaccessible or the soil is poor or saline. Plantation density depends on the product to be obtained; 10,000 trees/ha for biomass energy (Facciotto and Schenone, 1998), 400-1000 trees/ha for pulpwood and sawlogs, and P. alba can tolerate a higher density than other poplar species, with fewer and smaller branches, but thinning is necessary, and pruning is essential to avoid stem forking (Facciotto, 1999). A normal rotation of P. alba is 18-25 years with a final density of 300-400 trees/ha, yielding 10-15 cubic metres/ha/year or 18-22 cubic metres/ha/year on optimal sites (Gambi, 1979).
 
Environmental Requirements
 
P. alba grows in warm temperate zones with bimodal or uniform rainfall regime, with mean annual rainfall is in the range 300-1000 mm with only a short dry season. It is thermophile and light demanding, and can tolerate dry summers (Sekawin, 1975). It performs well in warm temperate and subtropical regions where water is available in the soil. In cool temperate zones it finds less favourable conditions, suffering from excessive moisture conditions, low temperature and frost and in this zone the hybrid between P. alba and aspen (P. tremula) is preferable.

P. alba can tolerate dry, saline and calcareous soils, but prefers neutral, well-textured soil and good water availability (Os’kina and Bespalov, 1992; Rédei, 1998). It does not tolerate stagnant water. It can grow on flat or sloping areas, preferably south-facing.

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
50 25 0 3000

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -45
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 8 20
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 14 30
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -5 15

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration12number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall3001000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Bimodal
Summer

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • saline
  • shallow

Notes on Natural Enemies

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P. alba, like other poplars, is host to a large number of insect species, but only a few of these are of any importance. Among insects, the defoliating moth, Hyphantria cunea, and the large poplar-leaf beetle, Chrysomela populi, play an important role. Borers prefer other poplar wood to that of P. alba, however, attacks of Cossus cossus and Saperda spp. are occasionally reported. Among the fungi the main defoliating agents are rusts (Melampsora spp.) and Marssonina castagnei and both can cause premature defoliation of trees. The anamorph Venturia attacks leaves and young shoots causing complete defoliation and deformation of the shoot/branch early in spring. Serious attacks of Agrobacteriumtumefaciens cause cankering and damage the plants.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)
 
The masses of light, minutes and hairy seeds are wind-dispersed, and can be transported long distances under the right conditions. However, in Illinois, USA, P. alba appears to reproduce mainly by suckers arising from the extensive lateral root system and can form large vegetative colonies or dense groves that are the primary threat this species poses to natural areas, shading out native vegetation (Glass, 1990).
 
Intentional Introduction

P. alba has been introduced internationally mostly as an ornamental.

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Positive and negative

Environmental Impact

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The capacity of P. alba to grow in a wide range of soils and to produce a large quantity of seeds and root suckers allows it to compete with many native tree and shrub species in sunny areas such as forest edges and abandoned fields and outside of its natural range it interferes with revegetation of these areas (Remaley and Swearingen, 1998).

P. alba is an aggressive exotic tree species that can take over portions of natural areas, especially prairie communities, shading out native vegetation. It easily escapes cultivation and, if left unchecked, it can form dense groves that are hard to eradicate (Glass, 1990).

Social Impact

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The cultivation of pistillate clones that produce large quantities of fruit pappus can be a nuisance for people who live near plantations. Furthermore, it can be dangerous as it is easily inflammable. The pollen of male clones can also provoke allergic reactions.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Causes allergic responses
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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P. alba has been used for windbreaks, erosion control along river banks and roadsides, land reclamation, agroforestry and ornamental uses in gardens for its silver foliage (Hao, 1997; Matthei, 1997; Shao et al., 1998). Natural stands of P. alba do not provide high-quality wood, suitable only for local and artisan use (Kasir and Shahbaz, 1985). On the other hand, specialized plantations offer the advantage of higher wood homogeneity necessary for industrial purposes, such as domestic furnishing, and semi-finished solid wood products for carpentry, shutters and structural uses, domestic woodware, toys; sports equipment, crates, boxes, pallets, wood wool, veneers, vehicle bodies; fibreboard and particleboard, mechanical pulpwood for paper and semi-chemical cellulose (Giordano, 1980), also to a lesser extent for making matches, wooden frames, clogs, wooden soles for shoes, and sticks for ice-lollies, also as round wood for posts and building poles, and charcoal. Leaves and young shoots can be collected for cattle feed.

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage

Environmental

  • Agroforestry
  • Amenity
  • Land reclamation
  • Ornamental
  • Revegetation
  • Shade and shelter
  • Windbreak

Fuels

  • Charcoal
  • Fuelwood

Materials

  • Wood/timber

Wood Products

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Charcoal

Containers

  • Boxes
  • Crates
  • Pallets

Furniture

Pulp

  • Short-fibre pulp

Roundwood

  • Building poles
  • Posts
  • Roundwood structures

Sawn or hewn building timbers

  • Carpentry/joinery (exterior/interior)
  • For light construction

Vehicle bodies

Veneers

Wood wool

Wood-based materials

  • Composite boards
  • Fibreboard
  • Improved wood
  • Particleboard
  • Wood cement

Woodware

  • Industrial and domestic woodware
  • Matches
  • Sports equipment
  • Toys

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Both P. balsamifera and P. heterophylla are similar to P. alba, differing only by having more flattened leafstalks. The hybrid Populus x canescens of which P. alba is one of the parents is very similar in appearance but its smaller, toothed leaves do not form lobes. That invasive populations contain one or other closely-related Populus species or hybrids thereof should be ascertained before management options are considered.

Prevention and Control

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Control
 
Cultural control and sanitary measures
 
Glass (1990) notes that very little research has been carried out on controlling P. alba specifically and many of the following methods are those that have proved successful with ‘aspens’ (used on several closely related Populus species). However, it should be accurately identified before attempting any control measures. If identification of the species is in doubt, the plant's identity should be confirmed by a knowledgeable individual and/or by consulting appropriate books (Glass, 1990). Prescribed burning can be effective in controlling Populus, but repeated burns are needed as a single burn may increase the number of suckers, and all above-ground suckers and trunks must be killed during the first year for maximum effectiveness, and biennial burns is effective especially if used with cutting (Glass, 1990).
 
Physical/mechanical control

Girdling of the parent tree and any suckers over 5 cm in diameter can be effective although dense resprouting can still occur. Cutting during the summer (June-August) appears to decrease suckering in the USA, and cutting twice at the beginning an end of summer can also be effective (Glass, 1990).
 
Biological control

No effective biological controls are known that are feasible in natural areas.
 
Chemical control

Triclopyr is effective as a basal bark or cut-stump treatment, and is best used in the dormant season to lessen damage to non-target species, and glyphosate can also be used as a foliar-applied spray (Glass, 1990).

References

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29/02/2008 Updated by:

Nick Pasiecznik, Consultant, France

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