March 21
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Plant Genus of the family Salicaceae

Genus Description Cultivation
Populus Important for both for their beauty and their utility, the 35 or so species of poplars or aspens in this genus are deciduous trees that range over much of the temperate Northern Hemisphere. Quick growing, some are used as nurse trees for less easily established species or as shelter belts. Others with brilliant autumn foliage are beautiful trees in their own right. A few species are also harvested for their soft white timber, which is most often used for boxes. While many poplars have deltoid-shaped leaves, that is, equilateral triangles attached at the base (?poplar-leafed? is often used to describe this shape), the genus encompasses a wide range of foliage shapes, sizes and textures. The flowers are tiny and held on pendulous catkins that appear before the foliage. The small capsules which follow are often filled with cotton-like down. There are separate male and female catkins, usually on separate trees. CULTIVATION: Poplars prefer a position in full sun in deep, moist, well-drained soil. Like many quick-growing plants they are short lived, only seldom exceeding 60 years before becoming hollow or rotten. They have vigorous invasive root systems and can sucker very heavily, which rules them out for small gardens and often makes them a problem near drains and paving. Prune to shape if necessary and propagate from winter hardwood cuttings.
Salix This large and widespread genus in the willow family consists of around 400 species, the majority occurring in the Northern Hemisphere in cold and temperate regions. The genus consists of trees through to creeping shrublets, mostly deciduous, with leaves often lance-shaped and toothed. The small flowers are usually insect pollinated and borne in a catkin, and male and female flowers often appear on separate trees. Fruits are capsular and contain wind-dispersed hairy seeds. Many of the species hybridize easily. Some species have become naturalized in countries such as Australia. Many willows have been widely grown for their timber, used in basketry and cricket bats. The bark has been used medicinally, as it contains salicin, the origin of the now-synthetically produced drug aspirin. Their strong root system, which has made them useful in stabilizing banks from erosion, is a disadvantage in the garden where the roots may invade drains and pipes. Ornamentally they are admired for their attractive form, particularly the weeping species which look good when planted near water; others have striking catkins, and some have colorful stems and leaves. The branches of most species are prone to breaking in strong winds. CULTIVATION: Most members of the genus are fairly adaptable if adequately watered during growth and the soil is well drained, not swampy. Propagate from seed, by layering, or from cuttings, which root easily even up to branch size.

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