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How fast do poplar trees grow?

Updated July 19, 2017

Poplar is a tree name that refers to a group of trees including cottonwood, quaking aspen, Lombardy poplar and white poplar. Poplars are known for their fast growth rate, and their ability to adapt to a wide range of growing conditions.

Features

Poplars are fast-growing trees, with some averaging 90 to 180 cm (3 to 6 feet) of growth in one season. The cottonwood is the largest in the poplar group, maturing at around 30 metres (100 feet) tall. Lombardy poplars and quaking aspens are popular for use as a fast growing windbreak or natural screen. Some poplars are able to colonise large areas through proliferate seed drop and their ability to sprout new trees from their roots.

Limitations

Trees that have fast growth rates tend to have weak wood and be short-lived. They are often considered a nuisance and hazard because of their tendency to lose branches and limbs in storms and high winds. They are prone to developing branch cankers, which can kill off branches throughout the tree, making it unsightly and hazardous.

Tips

Poplars are suited for some situations, but are not highly recommended for the urban landscape. Poplars are an excellent choice for natural areas and near water where their spread and mess are not a nuisance.

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About the Author

Jorden Kolpin has been writing about horticulture and plant pathology since 2006. She has been published on Iowa State University's Horticulture and Home Pest News website. She earned a Bachelor of Science in environmental horticulture from Iowa State University and is continuing to study plant pathology and mycology, the study of mushrooms.