Salicaceae (willow family) Populus

Populus alba white poplar

Europe, Western Asia
Populus alba leaves. John Rawlings, ca. 2005

Named for its white felt-like hairs on the undersides of the leaves and light color of young bark, white poplar is a favorite street tree in Italy. It is distinguished by its large palmate leaves with some blunt teeth. The soft wood is used for making match sticks.

See the attractive group at 1100 Welch Road; others are near the intersection of Gerona Road and Mirada Avenue. One grows on the south side of Bowdoin Street opposite the Stanford Campus Recreation Association in company with a P. fremontii.

The botanical name Populus alba is taken directly from the Roman name for the tree. The word populus also means “people” and is said to be of Etruscan origin. If so, “people” and our letter F are among the very few traces of Etruscan times found in modern English.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005.