This oddly-named tree is the oldest and best-known of the many hybrid cultivars. Its name of 'Serótina' means 'late-leafing,' and it is the last of all our poplars to break bud The early leaves are a warm olive-brown in colour, and form a unique element in the late April scene.
They turn to mid-green as they expand, and their shape is shown in Figure 66. See page 53 for other points of difference from Populus 'Regenerata'.
This tree is called 'Black Italian' because it is believed to have originated in Italy, about 1755, by the crossing of the European Black poplar, P. nigra, with an eastern American Black poplar, f! deltoides. It is now widely planted both in Europe and America,
The Black Italian poplar is always a male tree, and therefore only male catkins can be illustrated here. It has a characteristic one-sided crown, and looks more like a huge branch stuck in the ground, rather than a well-balanced tree (see Plate 28). It is hardy, resistant to town smoke, and also resistant to bacterial canker. Individual trees can reach great size, holding over 1,000 cubic feet of timber by the forester's traditional Hoppus measure: this is equivalent to 36 true cubic metres, or a weight of over 36 metric tonnes for the main trunk alone.
Black Italian poplar is often seen as a specimen tree in public parks, particularly in industrial towns. It is still widely planted as a timber producer. The tallest specimen, at Fairlawne, Kent reaches 46m with a girth of 6m,
Winter twig and bud of the Black Italian poplar. The twig is typically angular, while the bud has several pointed scales. (Twig, life size: bud x 5).
Male catkins of the Black Italian poplar, opening in April, before the leaves expand (xii).
Above left; the bract that opens at the base of each flower, then falls away.
Lower left: a single male flower, consisting of a green cup carrying numerous stamens. (Both details x 10).
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