Poplar Tree Root System

Poplar tree Root System

Introduction To The Poplar Tree

Poplar is a genus of 35 species of deciduous flowering plants in the Willow family (Salicaceae). The tree is native to most of the Hemisphere. Primarily native to North America, the poplar species has been well categorised under different name heads, namely: Aspen, Cottonwood, and the Balsam Poplar species. The name Populus has its foundation derived back to the Roman Times, where there was a predilection to plant the poplar trees around the public meetings areas. The trees are grown from cuttings, alias kalam, and are harvested annually in the
month of January and February, and is commercially available up to November.

These plants are graded accordingly into three categories, namely, ‘Over’, Under’ and ‘Sokta’. The Oval or Heart-shaped leaves, vary in their outline, tremble in the breeze, owing to their flat petioles. The rapid-growing trees relatively have a short-life span. The tree is widely distributed throughout the northern temperate regions, ranging from North America through Eurasia and northern Africa. However, various species of Populus in some parts of Europe, besides the United Kingdom, have experienced heavy dieback, partially due to a moth Sesia apiformis, native to North America, which bores down into the trunk of the tree during its larval stage. As per the updated database, the western balsam poplar was the first among the tree system whose full DNA code had been determined by the DNA sequencing in the
the year 2006.

It is chiefly used for making plywood, cardboard boxes, paper, veneer, and crates. For a large number of Lepidoptera species, Poplars and aspens are important food plants, whereby aspens are considered as one of the most important boreal broadleaf trees. It is often cited that the cottonwood section of the Poplars is either wetlands or riparian trees.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom:  Plantae
Subkingdom:  Tracheobionta
Superdivision:  Spermatophyta
Division:  Magnoliophyta
Class:  Magnoliopsida
Subclass:  Dilleniidae
Order:  Salicales
Family:  Salicaceae
Genus:  Populus L.

Root System Of Poplar Tree

Poplar Tree

  • The Poplar tree is commonly planted in the moist surroundings, whereby, the maximum structure of the root network of this tree does not develop until at least five years. Each seed of the plant has a covering of long, silky hairs which facilitates the growth of leaves, which are then pollinated by the wind.
  • Their height varies between 80 to 150 feet high and can stretch to as much as 160 to 450 feet from it is base. Unlike the new variants, the older poplar trees could surface only after a time variance of 16 years.
  • The trees are inclined to follow the path of least resistant zones and often end up taking a deviation or a turn when encountering hurdles, for example, concrete bases. However, they could pose a threat to the drainage system if the roots find cracks in the system.

Functioning Of The Root System

  • The root system of the poplar trees is expansive in nature. It is known to typically spread out to two or three times the height of the tree itself.
  • The roots of the tree grow well in the presence of an adequate quantity of air and water.
  • Owing to its requirement of space and water content, they hop upon such source instantly. Be it any basement foundation or a cracked sewer line, they will proliferate.
  • Modern construction techniques and materials, however, are impervious to such tree roots, nevertheless, faults still occur.

Are Poplar Tree Roots Invasive?

Poplar Tree Roots

Poplar tree roots exhibit some of the characteristics of an invasive root type. The fast-growing trees have their roots that send up suckers which form new poplar trees in all the directions. The undesired stem can germinate from stumps, cut trees, roots and even from the fallen branches. The tree retains its old fashioned charm by reproducing itself through the dispersal of the cottony seeds of the female tree. It begins the production of the seed at the age of about 8-10 years.

Factors Affecting Root Growth

  • The fast-growing poplar trees are equally active in growth below the surface as well. The growth of the root system varies depending upon factors like Sunlight, Soil Quality, moisture Content, and the much-needed Pruning.
  • While the pruning is required on an annual basis by simply removing the dead or diseased wood from the tree, sunlight and open spaces remain the chief factor in facilitating the growth of the roots.
  • Furthermore owing to its dependency nature upon the water, it is often categorised as an invasive species, if its adequate water requirement is not met. Thus, besides the above factors, well-drained, slightly acidic moist soil is needed.

The Variance of Plant Growth in Different Seasons

Poplar trees known for their strong root system can reach up to 130 feet in height. However, they vary in their growth pattern over the seasons.


The flowers of the tree appear early in the spring season even before leaves. Both, male and female flowers end up forming catkins that hang from the branches.


The fruit of the poplar tree changes its colour to reddish capsule type from the green that matures in the summer season. The capsule formed contains an outsized quantity of minuscule seeds.


The colour of the leaves turn from yellow to bright gold to yellow before they shed during the autumn season and the bark, harvested in the fall season is often very soft and hence is easy to carve.


In this season, the trees are usually harvested, particularly in the month of January and February. The trees are usually grown from cuttings or kalam.

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