A handsome tree, the white poplar has pale thick grey-green branches. The bark on the trunk also remains smooth and pale grey for many years, but finally develops beautiful diamond-shaped patterning. The crown is broad, and the shallow-lobed leaves flash in the breeze, showing their white-felted undersides. The foliage is especially striking on lake shores, when the water reflects sunlight onto the leaf undersides.
White poplar is dioecious (i.e. male and female flowers are on separate trees), the male being planted most. It is closely related to the native aspen (P. tremula). It is also native or at least long established the length of the Atlantic coastline and far into Asia, as well as on a strip of the North African coast.
As it ages, the white poplar produces some root suckers but a lawn-mower solves the problem. Grafting onto aspen rootstock slows the growth of white poplar. Some of the biggest softwoods in Finland are old white poplars growing in rich moist soil. Unfortunately, the species is seldom planted nowadays.