The Poplar, Aspen, and Abele

Poplars (Populus) are native to most of the Northern Hemisphere and include many sub species.

Black Poplar (Populus nigra).

The Poplar is the most valuable of all the aquatics, whether we consider the quickneſs of its growth, or the magnitude to which it will arrive: And although this tree is styled an Aquatic, yet it will grow exceedingly well, and attain an extraordinary bulk in a few years, on ground tolerably dry.

There are five species of Poplar, though I shall recommend only three to be planted for timber. These are, the White Poplar [Populus alba], known by the name of the Abele-tree; the Black Poplar [Populus nigra], so called from a black circle perceived at the centre of its trunk when felled; and the Trembling Poplar, or Aspen-tree [Populus tremula]. [1]

Black Poplar trunk.

Black Poplar wood.

White Poplars (Populus alba).

White Poplar wood.

Trembling Poplar (Populus tremula).

Trembling Poplar wood.

Poplar never gained the same status in Britain as it achieved in Europe and North America where it was used extensively as secondary wood for case work. Despite the ability of introduced poplars[2] to excel,[3] British cabinetmakers preferred oak and pine for making carcases etc. – at greater expense too.

Jack Plane


[1] John Evelyn, Silva: or, A discourse of forest-trees, and the propagation of timber in His Majesty’s dominions, as it was delivered in The Royal society, on the 15th of October 1662, third edition, volume 1, York, 1801, p. 208.

[2] Ibid. “This [Carolina] Poplar [Populus balsamifera] grows, to a large timber-tree, and has a peculiar majesty. This… [Virginia] Poplar [Populus heterophylla] also forms a large timber-tree.”  p. 211.

[3] Ibid. “All the foreign Poplars grow very freely in this country…” p. 212.

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About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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One Response to The Poplar, Aspen, and Abele

  1. Pingback: Thameside Poplars « HEAVY CLAY

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