Poplars are trees with light bark that is smooth at first but becomes
deeply furrowed with age. The lenticels are often pronounced. The leaves
are alternate sometimes with one to five basilaminar glands. The leaf
blades may be smooth to tomentose and are usually three-nerved from the
base. The shape is variable, from lanceolate to orbicular to palmately
five lobed. The leaf margin may be serrate or nearly entire. The petioles
usually are one-third or more the length of the blade. The inflorescence
is a pendulous catkin that appears before the leaves. The fruits are ovoid,
Poplars are found in moist soils from sea level to approximately 14,000
ft. Some produce basal shoots and are clump forming.
Poplars may form extensive root systems that reduce water flow in drainageways.
In many years they are prolific seed producers. The seeds bear long white
‘cottony’ hairs which give them buoyancy for air dispersal
but also cause them to impinge on and clog filters.