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Poplar — a versatile tree

The hardy poplar is great for shade, shelter, erosion control, stock food, timber and autumn colour.

Poplars are a fast growing, versatile group of large deciduous trees which can grow to over 30m. They have an excellent deep root system and provide multiple uses on the land.

Between the different species they will grow in most soil types and conditions except very wet or dry. They are one of the few trees that can have stock around them although grazing animals will need to be kept away for a couple of years until the trees are well established.

The leaf of the poplar is highly nutritious and cut branches can be fed to animals in times of drought without damaging the tree.

It is well suited for a variety of uses, from furniture to truck decking to veneer manufacture. Poplar may be harvested from 20 years on, depending on the species and growth conditions.

There are two main shapes within the poplars, narrow and columnar or wide and spreading. The wider crowned poplars are great for shade and wide shelterbelts where a deciduous tree is necessary. The narrow forms are better as a specimen tree or for shelterbelts where a lower amount of shade is needed.

Poplars have an excellent deep tap root which along with their fast growth rate makes them the ideal choice to stablilse slopes where earthflow, slip and slump erosion is occurring. Their root system is not suited to streambank erosion as that requires a fine mat of surface roots.

Depending on the variety, poplar will lose its leaf between May and July with a golden yellow display of colour.

At Alter-Natives we have the following five varieties of poplar available to cover most situations in Northland:

Kawa — wide spreading, fast growing, best on more sheltered, moist sites, good for erosion, shelter and timber; Chinese poplar — very hardy, tolerates dry and wind, slightly slower growing; Black balsam — hardy, tolerates dry and wind, large open tree with vigorous root system, excellent for erosion control and shelter; Crowsnest — narrow form, smaller tree good for shelterbelts; Chiba — narrow form, smaller tree good for amenity planting and shelterbelts.

One metre tall poplars are $8.50 each or 10 for $75. We also have poplar sleeves for sale at $3 each or 10 for $27. These help protect your plants from possums and stock.


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