Lombardy poplar tree facts

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Wednesday – August 26, 2009

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Are American sycamore or hybrid poplar trees toxic to dogs in San Antonio?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


We anticipate planting an American Sycamore or a Hybrid Poplar tree in our back yard but we have several small dogs and are concerned that they may eat some of the leaves. Do either of these trees possess any type of toxic elements that would be harmful to small dogs if consumed? Thanks for your help.


Mr. Smarty Plants would like to divide this question into two parts; first we’ll talk about toxicity, and then we’ll discuss plant choices.

There are numerous databases that contain the names of plants that are toxic to diffferent domestic animals, and I have included several below. When you use the database, it is better to use the scientific names for the plants; Platanus occidentalis for the Sycamore, and Populus sp. for the Poplar. Not finding the plant name on the list is not a gaurantee that the plant is non toxic, but it increases the probality that it isn’t.

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina

Cornell University Plants Poisonous to Livestock

Toxic Plants of Texas

University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants

ASPCA Toxic and Non-toxic Plant List – Dogs

When choosing a tree to plant, think about these things; what do I want it do? (shade or ornamental), how much space do I have for it (think about mature size)?; how much “mess” can I tolerate?; what is the normal life span? By perusing this site from the Washington State University Extension, you will gain some insight to answering these and other questions dealing with planting trees.

Hybrid Poplars have become very popular in the US because they are a fast growing tree with a pleasing columnar mature shape. However, their rapid growth is coupled with a short life span. Generally, they represent crosses between North American Cottonwoods and European Poplars. This link gives some pros and cons regarding planting hybrid Poplars.

The American Sycamore Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore) is a fast growing shade tree that is drought resistant, deer resistant, and can grow to height of 70 to 100 feet; a very large tree! This WSU Extension site recommends against planting this tree

I’m going to refer you to a couple of previously answered questions; the first one has some good information about other fast growing shade trees for Central Texas, and the second has contains tips for when you are ready to purchase your new tree.

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Lombardy Poplar Facts – Guide To Lombardy Poplar Care In The Landscape

Lombardy poplars (Populus nigra ‘Italica’) are the rock stars of the home garden, living fast and dying young. Many homeowners select them when they need a quick privacy screen, but come to regret it later. If you read up on Lombardy poplar tree facts, you’ll find that these trees offer advantages but also many disadvantages. For more information about Lombardy poplars in landscapes, read on.

What is a Lombardy Poplar?

What is a Lombardy poplar? This species of poplaris tall and thin, its shape columnar. It grows well in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9a. Lombardy poplar trees grow rapidly. They could grow to a mature height of up to 60 feet, spreading around 12 feet. However, most are killed by canker disease within 15 years, so large specimens are hard to find.

Lombardy poplar tree facts tell you that the trees are deciduous. Their diamond-shaped leaves change from bright green to blazing golden yellow, then they fall. Lombardy poplars in landscapes develop small flowers in spring. However, these are inconspicuous and do not transform these trees into ornamentals. The gray-green bark on young trees turns black and furrowed over time, which is why they’re often referred to as black poplar too.

Lombardy Poplar Care

If you decide to grow Lombardy poplar trees, plant them in a site with full sun. The trees also need soil with good drainage but accept either acidic or alkaline soil.

Lombardy poplar care includes cutting back the multiple suckers. These appear at the base of the trees, both near to and far from the tree. Roots are considered invasive.

Lombardy Poplar Pros and Cons

Despite its quick growth and attractive fall color display, Lombardy poplars have disadvantages. The primary disadvantage is the tree’s susceptibility to diseases and pests.

Lombardy poplar is very susceptible to stem canker disease. It is virtually impossible to prevent or treat this disease. Stem canker disease reduces the average life span of the Lombardy poplar to 10 or 15 years. The only thing you can do to help combat the disease is to trim off and burn infected branches.

Lombardy poplars in landscapes are also susceptible to other diseases. These include foliage diseases such as rusts, leaf spots and powdery mildew. They are also magnets for pests, including:

  • Caterpillars
  • Aphids
  • Willow beetles
  • Borers
  • Scale

If you want a columnar, narrow-crowned trees, consider ‘fastigiate’ cultivars in species like European hornbeam, Armstrong maple, and Leyland cypress.

Lombardy Poplar Tree

Fast-Growing Privacy Wind Break

Why Lombardy Poplar Trees?

Block the wind, lower your heating bills, and enjoy your yard throughout the summer and winter, all at the same time. With the Lombardy Poplar, it’s possible – simply plant one every 5 to 8 feet, and you’ll have a dense barrier that can reach amazing heights quickly.

Nothing stops the wind faster. Lombardy Poplars commonly grow 6 feet per year, with some reaching growth rates of 9 to 12 feet. You often see Lombardys planted around farm fields to keep topsoil from blowing away – and they’ll work just as effectively for your home.

Plus, their Mediterranean look adds value to your property. These plush Poplars grow in an elegant, columnar fashion. Use them to line your driveway, the road or the edges of your property. Line your Northern borders for a full, voluminous look that’s enviable.

Why Fast-Growing-Trees.com is Better

Best of all? When you plant Lombardy Poplars, you get a large, solid wall, without taking up a lot of yard space. Unusual, upward-sloping branches form a stunning, columnar outline that’s second to none. And we’ve planted, grown and shipped each Lombardy Poplar from our nursery for amazing results…now, you reap the rewards.

Plant today and you’ll have silver-green leaves and unusual branches swaying in the breeze in no time. Lombardy Poplar Trees are not evergreens, but they continue to provide great wind blockage and privacy throughout the year. Order a few (or more) of your own today!

Planting & Care

1. Planting: These full sun lovers (6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day) are very drought tolerant and can be shaped into elegant columnar fashions becoming solid walls that take up little space in your yard. Although not evergreen, they provide great wind blockage and privacy all year.

When you’re ready to plant, dig your hole two times the width and the same depth of the root system of the plant you’re working with. This will give the roots plenty of room. Hold the tree straight and begin back filling the hole tamping down as you go to eliminate any air pockets from forming. When the hole has been completely backfilled, water the planting site to help settle the soil. Mulch around the base of the tree to prevent competing weeds/grasses from growing and to conserve water moisture in the soil.

FGT Tip: If you are experiencing extreme temperatures or a severe drought, it’s suggested that you place your tree in the shade, or plant it in a well-shaded area in your lawn.

2. Watering: During the first year, make sure your tree gets water during extended dry spells, particularly in the summer months. Drooping leaves are a sign of both over or under watering, so ensure you water your Lombardy about once or twice weekly.

3. Fertilizing: Fertilize conservatively. Organic fertilizer high in nitrogen works well. You can use a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 fertilizer formula. Avoid fertilizing the tree directly. Instead, broadcast the fertilizer around the drip line.

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The leaves are alternate, rounded, 5-10 cm long, and narrow abruptly into a short point. They are hairless, dark green above and paler below with blunt teeth along a clear margin. The 3-7 cm leaf-stalks are conspicuously flattened.

ID check

Black Poplar is a deciduous tree with a rounded outline up to 30 m tall with a strongly ridged bark broken up by large numbers of rough, swollen areas, ‘bosses’, which are absent in the similar Italian Poplar. It is a rare native tree of the flood plains of rivers and streams.

The lowest branches arch downwards but finally the tips point upwards. In the similar Italian Poplar all branches are spreading and in the Lombardy Poplar (which is a variety of black poplar) they are all upright (see illustration opposite).

Male and female catkins which are 3-7 cm long, appear on separate trees (dioecious) in March before the leaves. However, female trees are very rare.

The red male catkins soon fall whilst the greenish females develop into masses of white fluff at the end of June which scatter the seeds in the wind.


  • Poplar wood has an open texture easily impregnated with paraffin wax which makes it one of the most frequently used for match-making.

  • The wood is commonly used in Holland for making clogs.

  • Caterpillars of the Wood Leopard moth bore into the stems sometimes weakening them so much that they break

Growing Poplar Trees: Information And Tips For Planting Hybrid Poplar Trees

Homeowners love growing poplar trees (Populus spp.) because these American natives shoot up fast, bringing shade and beauty into backyards. There are some 35 species of poplar and, since they cross-pollinate, an infinite number of hybrids. Are poplar trees good or bad as shade trees? Read on to learn the factors that you must consider before growing poplar trees.

Poplar Tree Facts

Poplars can grow very tall and anchor their trunks with powerful roots. These roots might cause problems for homeowners or gardeners who are not familiar with basic poplar tree facts. For instance, planting hybrid poplar trees near houses is not recommended. Poplar trees thrive in warm weather and moist to wet soil. They grow most prolifically in the southern states where these conditions are met.

Although poplar varieties range in height and breadth, most share some traits that make them easy to recognize. For example, you can often distinguish a poplar by its leaves that are often heart-shaped and rimmed with tiny teeth. Brilliant green in summer, they glow gold in autumn.

Every poplar tree bears both male and female flowers, and in springtime, before the leaves open, you can see hanging clusters of yellow blossoms. The fruits also appear before the poplars leaf. They are small capsules that contain the seeds.

You are most likely to see four poplar varieties in the United States: white, eastern, Lombardy, and balsam poplar. The first two are massive trees, growing to over 100 feet tall. Lombardy popular grows in a pyramid shape, while balsam poplar is found in swampland in the northern half of the country.

Poplar Tree Care

Whether you are planting hybrid poplar trees or one of the popular varieties, you’ll find that poplar tree care is easy in the proper location. Poplars need fertile soil, acidic or neutral, as well as direct sun and sufficient water to keep their roots moist.

One of the most important poplar tree facts is the sheer size of the tree. It rises to between 50 and 165 feet high with a trunk diameter of up to 8 feet. You must be sure that your tree will have sufficient room to grow to its full size.

Are Poplar Trees Good or Bad?

Poplars are wonderful backyard trees, good for specimen planting as well as wind-rows. However, like every species, they have disadvantages.

If you’ve heard stories about poplar roots crumbling house foundations, you already know a major issue with poplars. To hold up those huge trunks, poplars have powerful roots that can raise a sidewalk or disrupt a sewer line. Keep this in mind when selecting a planting location.

The other downside of poplars is that they don’t live long. Even with the best poplar tree care, specimens die in about 50 years and you’ll have to plant again.

Lombardy Poplar

However you choose to use the beautiful Lombardy Poplar trees (Populus nigra Italica’), we know you’ll be pleased. It is one of the fast-growing trees used in wind breaks and as privacy screens.

People love these beautiful, fast-growing screening trees with their strongly columnar profile. There is something about a green column with branches held strongly upright that really catches your eye and adds character to any landscape.

Perhaps it’s the peaceful feeling you get standing near them. They’ll move your eye straight up and give you a grand sense of scale. Lombardy Poplars are fine-textured trees and feature a pleasing, symmetrical crown.

Large, heart-shaped, fluttering leaves are green on one side and silver on the other. It’s mesmerizing to watch their shimmering dance and hear their rustling sound in the slightest breeze. In fall, the leaves turn a classic shade of bright, autumn yellow.

Popular since the late 1700’s, it’s hard to imagine the United States without this lovely tree lining streets and large landscapes.

Widely adaptable Poplars grow across the country. Birds love the shelter and high protection the Lombardy branches offer, so you will have plenty of songbirds coming to visit.

People love how fast they grow provide a quick privacy hedge. If you need to screen out an unwanted view, this tree can grow up to 6 feet a year. Very few other screening trees will grow as fast as a Lombardy Poplar.

For a fast-growing privacy boost, don’t buy just one. These trees have got you – or at least that ugly view – covered!

How to Use Lombardy Poplar in the Landscape

You have probably seen them planted in a row along the edges of large properties. Their leaves help trap and disperse the wind. They will also muffle traffic sounds.

Farmers love to plant them behind slower growing evergreen trees as effective wind and snow breaks. Try several in your landscape against the direction of your prevailing winds.

Tall and columnar, Lombardy Poplars create a memorable impact wherever they are planted, but especially if planted in a row. Planted at 5′ to 8′ apart, they will make a formidable windbreak in no time. You can zig-zag – or stagger – a series of planting rows for faster results.

Add the Lombardy Poplar with other trees and tall flowering shrubs to create a wonderful mixed planting. Include evergreens to gain cover all winter long. In winter, the Lombardy Poplar makes a strong visual statement with its bare branches held erect.

These stately trees have been used in public and private landscapes in Europe since the late 1600’s. The trees begin to show up in the United States in the late 1700’s, in a short amount of time they were being planted everywhere.

Andrew Jackson Downing, a renowned landscape designer and horticulturist in the 1800’s, helped popularize them in America by extensively writing about their extraordinary habits and the many ways to use them. The wide range of climates that the tree would grow in only added to it popularity.

Lombardy Poplars have been used to dramatically line roadways. People also used them as tall backdrops for their garden borders. They easily highlight and define property lines.

Lombardy Poplar’s classic look will be a memorable compliment to most larger landscapes or businesses. Try a single tree as a wonderful landmark specimen.

Or, use multiples in an informal grouping in the far lawn. Mulch underneath and create an oblong, island garden bed. You’ll love the energetic vista – or view – created with these dynamic trees.

#ProPlantTips for Care

Lombardy Poplar works beautifully in Zones 3-9. It is adapted to almost any soil it is planted in.

Plant in full sun for best performance. Give it regular water as a young tree.

It becomes a truly drought tolerant variety after its first few seasons. As ground water gets low in the late summer, the tree goes dormant to cut down its water needs. If you experience a very dry summer, you’ll see leaf drop early.

During times of extended drought, give it supplemental water, if you want to extend the life of the leaves. These cold hardy Poplars can handle occasional wet soils, too.

Very easy to grow and care for once established, plant Lombardy Poplar where it will have enough room to grow into its mature size. It is a large tree despite being narrow, so give it lots of room to thrive.

With shallow surface roots, it’s best to mulch underneath and create a garden bed. Plant it at least 40 feet away from pavement, leach fields and foundations.

Leave the lower branches on for a fuller screen from top to bottom. You’ll love the look. Order today!

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