Hybrid Poplar Trees: Should You Plant Them? What Are Pros and Cons?
There are thousands of different varieties of trees within the beautiful world we live in, each grows in different environments, thrives off of different resources, and plays a very specific role within their surrounding ecosystems.
The hybrid poplar tree, in particular, is quite fascinating and has caught a lot of attention due to its rapid and extreme growth rates and statistics.
So whether you’re interested in growing your garden and planting trees for a lifetime or if you are an environmentalist, an activist, or simply just looking for information about the tree circulating the internet then you’ve come to the right place, and here is everything you need to know.
What Is a Poplar Tree?
The first step in understanding more about the tree and what makes it so interesting is firstly to understand what exactly it is that we are talking about. Poplar trees are actually a really common type of tree species and have many different varieties, around thirty-five to be exact including many hybrids due to cross-pollination, such as Aspen, black poplar, white poplar, gray poplar just to name a few. Poplar trees are super common amongst homeowners typically living in America, largely due to the fact that they grow to enormous heights really quickly.
Where Does Poplar Tree Grow?
Poplar trees are native to the Northern Hemisphere including many regions of North America, Europe Asia, the United Kingdom, and North Africa, and grow in conditions of temperate climates. Poplar tree species require a lot of moisture, direct sunlight, and nutrient-rich soil in order to thrive and grow to the levels that they do. You would find Poplar trees near rivers, ponds, and swamps where it serves numerous purposes to the surrounding area and its inhabitants. The hybrid poplar lifespan is relatively short compared to man other tree species, and they will only live anywhere between 30 and 50 years, but this is not a bad thing that you will soon understand.
How Fast Do Poplar Trees Grow?
It’s the hybrid poplar tree growth rate that makes it so desirable and useful for a multitude of different things. Hybrid poplar trees are not only one of the fastest-growing tree species but also one of the biggest which is rare in nature. They grow around 2 meters in size every single year and can grow up to 20-25 meters in total.
Not only do they grow upwards and stand tall, but they are no skinny tree either, they get to be around 10 meters across as well, giving them a good base to withstand even the harshest of weather conditions including storms and strong winds.
Poplar trees grow in a very specific pyramid shape which is what often distinguishes them from others in their surroundings, however, they are slightly different depending on their exact species. The leaves are also noticeably heart-shaped and rimmed with tiny teeth-shaped markings.
What Are Poplar Trees Used for?
Planting hybrid poplar trees is done for a number of different reasons, which each prove useful for different sectors of the environment. The main reasons as to why people create a poplar plantation include :
Shade or Show
Apart from poplar trees being good for the environment, they are also good to look at and good for creating areas of shade. Many homeowners choose to plant poplar trees in their backyards, simply because they are so fast-growing. They not only make their gardens look lush and full, but can easily create shaded areas too.
Windbreaker and Barrier
Because of the sheer size of a poplar tree, they can stand up to almost anything and are not affected by a heavy gust of wind, which may end up destroying many of the other flora and fauna. Poplar trees are also a great choice if you are looking for privacy or a way to create some sort of natural barrier or fence.
In a more commercial sense, hybrid poplar trees are grown just so they can be chopped down and used for their wood, this is because they grow so fast and so big. Hybrid poplar chips which are created from wood are in high demand for their uses as fuel for pellet stoves and mulch as well as in paper, cardboard, and paper pulp production.
Poplar trees are very valuable to our environment and its many ecosystems. They thrive well in very wet soil and thus are used as a way to control soil erosion and create wildlife habitats in otherwise deselected areas.
Hybrid Poplar Trees Pros Cons
While there are many amazing benefits and advantages of planting hybrid poplar trees, as with anything, there are also a few hybrid poplar problems that may occur and have a negative effect. Some main pros and cons of hybrid tree planting include :
- Hybrids grow six to ten times faster than all their other similar species, which means the economic return is much quicker.
- Hybrid trees are very resistant to disease, which means there is little chance of them dying early.
- They are easy to plant.
- Their stump sprouts ensure that future trees that grow as a result come with little to no cost involved.
- They have many commercial uses including pulpwood (needed in lake states), Engineered Lumber products, and energy.
- Hybrid poplar trees absorb so much CO over their lifetime so when it is burnt and Co is released this amounts to a neutral state making it more environmentally friendly and sustainable.
- They can help protect farmers’ fields.
- Protect the soil from wind erosion, which will then protect the livestock, wildlife habitats, and humans.
Hybrid Poplar Trees Problems
Most of the hybrid seeds disadvantages come from the fact that they are landscaping nightmares, it’s not so much about the appearance of the tree from the outside but more so about what happens underneath it. Because of the insane growth rate and the large size that hybrid poplar trees can get to, they need a steady base to keep them sturdy as they grow. One problem occurs with the roots, they often grow out of control and land up on streets and pavements. As well as this they cause problems in yards and parks. Many of the poplar species are susceptible to fungal leaf spots that can destroy the trees by late summer and cause them to defoliate.Some other reasons that planting hybrid trees may cause problems to include:
- Fast growth;
- Rapid regrowth;
- Disease issues;
- Root issues.
Poplar Tree Disease
Cottonless hybrid poplar disease is one of the reasons that it is frowned upon. Many of these diseases in the newly developed hybrid species has effectively been removed through scientific research, there are many species that still cause threat. They can not only be self-affected but cause all species within their region to fall and die as well.
It’s the hybrid poplar leaves that can easily get affected by a fungal disease that causes rotting and decay, which is unhealthy for them too.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know a little more about hybrid poplar trees in general as well as about the many pros and cons of planting them and why they are both useful for the environment and in some ways destructive.
Now you have witnessed Lombardy poplar alternative and the many species that they encompass. You can see just how large and diverse the environment and nature are and how each element is extremely important and plays a specific role within the many ecosystems and habitats of the world.
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