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.
Poplars are fast-growing trees, with some averaging 3 to 6 feet of growth in one season. The cottonwood is the largest in the poplar group, maturing at around 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 colonize large areas through proliferate seed drop and their ability to sprout new trees from their roots.
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.
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.