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Poplar tree appearance wood uses and lumber

Poplar trees are common throughout Europe, North Africa and West Asia. This European poplar tree is closely related to the North American balsam poplar. Wood properties and visual appearances of both tree species are similar. The scientific name of the poplar tree is populus tremula and is part of the salicaeae family. This poplar tree is fast growing and seen both in and outside many European cities.

poplar tree and catkins

Poplar tree, leaf and flower description

poplar tree saplings trunk and catkinsThe poplar tree can grow to heights up to 100 feet or 30 meters. The tree is classed deciduous and won't have leaves from late autumn till early spring.

Poplar leaves are arranged alternate and ovate round shaped with medium-toothed edges. A light breeze is enough to let the leaves make a very distinctive sound. Poplar leaves can reach lengths up to 3 inches or 8 cm. The leaves are shiny dark green on the sun side and pale green on the other side.

In autumn the leaves turn dark yellow to brown and fall too the ground. Catkins are the flowers, and in a later stage the seeds of the poplar tree.


Poplar tree bark and trunk

Young poplar trees have smooth pale grey to brown bark. When the tree gets older the bark gets darker and more furrowed. The trunk of old poplar trees often rots from inside out. This is the main reason most trees don't get very old. The trunk of older trees can have a diameter up to 6 feet or 2 meters.


Poplar tree wood properties and durability

Fresh poplar heartwood has a yellow to brown color. The sapwood is paler yellow, exposure to sunlight gives the wood a darker color, more in line with the heartwood. The wood has a fine to medium but wooly texture, low strength and shock resistance properties and low steam bending qualities. The average dried weight of the wood at a moisture content of 12% is 450 kg per cubic meter. The durability of poplar wood is classed as V low durability.


Poplar wood working tips and uses

poplar tree wood usesPoplar wood is medium soft and easy to work with by hand or machine. Fresh lumber shrinks but after drying remains stable. Due to this shrinkage nails and screws should be used with caution because they often get loose.

Dry poplar lumber nails, screws, glues, and works well both by hand or machine. The wood is used in a wide range of products like

  • firewood
  • veneer
  • turned articles
  • plywood
  • pulpwood
  • pallets
  • clogs
  • and more

More poplar tree pictures!