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While poplar (Populus alba)

Diputación de Málaga

While poplar (Populus alba)

IDENTIFICATION

It is a deciduous tree (losing its leaves in autumn) with an erect and cylindrical trunk, and a great bearing (up to 25 m high). The bark is white or greyish and it cracks longitudinally with age. The leaves are wide with changing forms, although they are more commonly palms. They can be symmetric, clearer on the beam and with a characteristic whitish fur cover, giving it a silver aspect on the underside. The flowers develop in elongated hanging branches called aments. The fruits are capsules which open when ripe, releasing cotton seeds, looking like having a fluff) dispersing with the wind. 

WHERE DOES IT LIVE?

It prefers low areas. It avoids altitude because it cannot stand frost. It usually uses fertile plains in the middle and lower courses of the rivers. It appears associated with river systems, sources and springs, forming mixed riverbank groves with ash or willow trees. It tolerates clay soils and grows well in basic soils or calcareous ones, avoiding saline.  

HOW DOES IT LIVE?

It is a dioecious species (female flowers separated from male ones, each one in different specimens). The flowering occurs before the leaves develop, which grow after pollination. When the tree is covered by leaves, fruit dispersion can start. The seeds, of a cottony aspect, can be mistaken with pollen.

WHERE CAN WE SEE IT IN MÁLAGA?

It is a common species all over the province, always linked to water-courses and well structured riverbanks forests. It is present in most of the Great Path (Gran Senda), although the best representations of this species can be observed in the Malaga Northen part. It also appears in the Velez and Guadalhorce river mouths and all along the Genal river. In the Great Path (Gran Senda), we can observe it on stages 2, 14 to 19, 27 and 35.

CURIOUS FACTS

It is a tree with a great forest and ornamental interest. It is widely used in slope restoration, since it helps to fix the soil on the slopes, thanks to its action as a riverbank tree. This property is very important as it helps reduce flooding and flow growth impacts. The Latin name of the species : Populus refers to the fact that it is a "popular tree". The Latin epithet alba alludes to the whitish aspect of leaves underside.

SMILAR SPECIES

It can be confused with the black poplar, with which it often shares habitats. The key to differentiate them is in the underside leaves (the back part of the leaves). In the black poplar, it is shiny green whereas in the white poplar it is silver white.

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