Herb: Black Poplar


Latin name: Populus nigra


Family: Salicaceae (Willow Family)



Medicinal use of Black Poplar:

The leaf buds are covered with a resinous sap that has a strong turpentine odour and a bitter taste. They also contain salicin, a glycoside that probably decomposes into salicylic acid (aspirin) in the body. The buds are antiscorbutic, antiseptic, balsamic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, salve, stimulant, tonic and vulnerary. They are taken internally in the treatment of bronchitis and upper respiratory tract infections, stomach and kidney disorders. They should not be prescribed to patients who are sensitive to aspirin. Externally, the buds are used to treat colds, sinusitis, arthritis, rheumatism, muscular pain and dry skin conditions. They can be put in hot water and used as an inhalant to relieve congested nasal passages. The buds are harvested in the spring before they open and are dried for later use. The stem bark is anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, diuretic and tonic. The bark contains salicylates, from which the proprietary medicine aspirin is derived. It is used internally in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis, gout, lower back pains, urinary complaints, digestive and liver disorders, debility, anorexia, also to reduce fevers and relieve the pain of menstrual cramps. Externally, the bark is used to treat chilblains, haemorrhoids, infected wounds and sprains. The bark is harvested from side branches or coppiced trees and dried for later use.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Tree

Height:
30 m
(98 feet)

Flovering:
April


Scent:
Scented
Tree

Habitat of the herb:

Moist ground in woods and by streams.

Edible parts of Black Poplar:

Inner bark - dried, ground then added to flour and used for making bread etc. A famine food, used when all else fails.

Other uses of the herb:

An extract of the shoots can be used as a rooting hormone for all types of cuttings. It is extracted by soaking the chopped up shoots in cold water for a day. A fast growing tree, it is often used to provide a quick screen or windbreak. The cultivar "Italica" is commonly used for this purpose though it is not a very suitable choice because it has fragile branches and is prone to basal rots which can cause sudden collapse. The cultivar "Plantierensis" is much more suitable. A resin obtained from the buds is made into a salve and used in home remedies. The bark is used as a cork substitute for floats etc. Wood - very soft, very light, rather woolly in texture, without smell or taste, of low flammability, not durable, easy to work, very resistant to abrasion. Used for lower quality purposes.

Propagation of Black Poplar:

Seed - must be sown as soon as it is ripe in spring. Poplar seed has an extremely short period of viability and needs to be sown within a few days of ripening. Surface sow or just lightly cover the seed in trays in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the old frame. If sufficient growth is made, it might be possible to plant them out in late summer into their permanent positions, otherwise keep them in the cold frame until the following late spring and then plant them out. Most poplar species hybridize freely with each other, so the seed may not come true unless it is collected from the wild in areas with no other poplar species growing. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth, 20 - 40cm long, November/December in a sheltered outdoor bed or direct into their permanent positions. Very easy. Suckers in early spring. This species rarely produces suckers.

Cultivation of the herb:

Moist ground in woods and by streams.

Known hazards of Populus nigra:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.