White Poplar

By Scott Catron (Own work) [GFDL (https://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Populus tremuloides-White Poplar

Family: Salicaceae

Other names: Quaking Aspen, American Poplar, Populus aurea, Populus tremula subsp., tremuloides, American Aspen the most common White Poplar alternative name being American Aspen

Habitat: N. America – Alaska to Newfoundland, south to Mexico. A pioneer species of old fields, logged or burnt land, it is found in a range of soils from shallow, rocky or clay soils to rich sandy ones. It grows best in rich porous soils with plenty of lime.

hazardsmallPossible toxic effects due to salicylates (e.g. heartburn, tinnitus). Avoid with ulcers, stomach or peptic ulcers.

White Poplar has a long history of use as a medicinal herb. It was widely employed medicinally by many native North American Indian tribes who valued it especially for its antiseptic and analgesic qualities, using it in the treatment of wounds, skin complaints and respiratory disorders. It is used for the same purposes in modern herbalism. The stem bark is anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, nervine and stimulant. The bark contains salicylates, from which the proprietary medicine aspirin is derived. It is used internally in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis, gout, lower back pains, urinary complaints, digestive and liver disorders, debility, anorexia, also to reduce fevers and relieve the pain of menstrual cramps. Externally, the bark is used to treat chilblains, haemorrhoids, infected wounds and sprains. An infusion of the inner bark is considered to be a remedy for coughs and an appetite stimulant, it is also used in the treatment of stomach pains, urinary ailments, VD, worms, colds and fevers. The root is poulticed and applied to cuts and wounds. A tea from the root bark is used as a treatment for excessive menstrual bleeding. The leaf buds are used as a salve for colds, coughs and irritated nostrils. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Populus tremuloidesWhite Poplar for haemorrhoids, wounds & burns.

By Tewy (Own work) [GFDL (https://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia CommonsDescription of White Poplar:

Populus tremuloides, White Poplar is a deciduous Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone 1. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen from May to June. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Wind.The plant is not self-fertile.

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. Needs full sun. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Cultivation of White Poplar:

Propagation of White Poplar:

Collection: The bark should be collected in the spring, taking care not to ringbark the tree and thus kill it. The bark is harvested from side branches or coppiced trees and dried for later use. 

Culinary uses of White Poplar:

Edible Parts: Flowers,  Inner bark,  Sap.
Edible Uses: 

Inner bark – raw or cooked. It can be dried, ground into a powder and used as a flour. This is normally mixed with other flours for making bread etc and can also be used as a thickener in soups. It is best used in the spring. Sap – can be tapped and used as a drink. It has also been used as a flavouring with wild strawberries. Catkins – raw or cooked. Bitter.

White_poplar,Populus tremuloidesMedicinal uses of White Poplar:

Actions: Anti-inflammatory, astringent, antiseptic, anodyne,cholagogue, bitter tonic.

Part Used: The bark.

Indications: White Poplar is an excellent remedy to use in the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism where there is much pain and swelling. In this area, its use is quite similar to Willow, and is most effective when used in a broad therapeutic approach and not by itself. It is very helpful during the flare-up of rheumatoid arthritis. As a cholagogue it can be used to stimulate digestion and especially stomach and liver function, particularly where there is loss of appetite. In feverish colds and in infections such as cystitis it may be considered. As an astringent it can be used in the treatment of diarrhoea.

Priest & Priest tell us that it is a “bitter tonic for all general uses, especially for post-febrile debility. Stimulates appetite and aids digestion. Suitable for the elderly.” They give the following specific indications: dyspepsia, flatulence, diarrhoea, dysentery..

Ellingwood recommends it for the following patholgies: intermittant fever, protracted fevers, prostatic hypertrophy, general debility.

Preparations & Dosage of White Poplar:

Decoction: put 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried bark in a cup of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day. To stimulate appetite, drink 30 minutes before meals.

Tincture: take 2-4 ml of the tincture three times a day.

Combinations: In the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis it may be used with Black Cohosh, Bogbean and Celery. As a digestive stimulant it can be used with Balmony and Golden Seal.

Other uses of White Poplar:

Pioneer,;  Wood.

A fast-growing tree, it rapidly invades bare areas such as logged woodland and soon establishes dense stands of young trees by sending up suckers. It provides excellent conditions for other species of trees to become established and these will eventually out-compete the poplar. The bark has been used to make hats. The bark has sometimes been used for cordage. Poplar Wood – soft, light, weak, close-grained, rather woolly in texture, without smell or taste, of low flammability, not durable, very resistant to abrasion. It weighs 25lb per cubic foot. Not strong enough for furniture or construction, it is occasionally used for fences, railings and barn doors, is excellent for cheap crates and boxes and is widely used for pulp, producing a high quality paper.

Esoteric uses of White Poplar:

Eloquence, clairvoyance, healing, and anti-theft. Plant in your garden for protection against thieves.

The Chemistry:


  • Phenolic glycosides, salicin , populin
  • Tannins
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