The one definitely native poplar is aspen (all other poplars may be assumed to be introduced, although the black poplar is still being argued about). Aspen will grow into a full sized tree. The leaves make a distinctive sound as they rattle gently in the wind, and they have a sweet smell in the spring. Aspen can be found in wet areas and around lake edges such as in Glenveagh, Co. Donegal. Poplars produce seeds on catkins, but also spread vegetatively by suckers i.e. new shoots growing up from the roots. It is easiest to propagate aspen by cutting through roots and transplanting a sucker. A warning should be given about planting aspen in damp sites with good soil. They sucker very readily and may spread too far, taking over too great an area. Choose aspen if you don't mind an invasion!
Suitable for Open Spaces
Tolerates or prefers Damp Conditions
Tolerates smoke or pollution
If you wish to grow aspen from seed, you must find a mix of aspen trees. Often a 'grove' has arisen by suckers from one tree and will all be of one sex, as aspen is a single sex tree. When both sexes are present, seeds are borne on the female catkins in May. These small seeds must be sown immediately after collection, on damp bare earth, pressed in gently but left uncovered (like birch). However, as the seed is only viable for about three days it is more feasible to grow it from suckers.