Poplar trees have developed a bit of a bad reputation despite being one of the only native shade trees to thrive in the prairies. Since they have evolved here for thousands of years, they are very well adapted to our extreme climate, grow quickly and are excellent shade providers. Poplars are also very low maintenance, resistant to insects and disease, good for slowing winds, and amazing at dampening street noise.
There are many misconceptions surrounding poplar trees. The Parks department values all healthy mature trees and works diligently to maintain them. A tree will only be cut down by the City if it is dead, dying, infested with insects or disease, or if it is causing a safety issue.
Fiction: Poplar “fluff” causes allergies.
Fact: The fluff is actually carrying the seeds of the female poplar tree and is far too large to trigger an allergic reaction. Allergies are actually caused by microscopic pollen grains from grasses suspended in the air around the same time the poplar fluff is in the air.
Fiction: Poplar roots will destroy my foundation, and water and sewer lines.
Fact: Tree roots will only grow where water and air are available. If the water line or foundation is cracked roots may take advantage of the space and grow into the existing fault. While it is true that poplar roots used to be a problem for older lines that were constructed out of clay tiles, current lines are made of metal or plastic which are impenetrable by tree roots when in good condition.
Fiction: Poplars are short lived trees that need to be cut down after only a few years.
Fact: While they do have a shorter lifespan than some species that live for thousands of years, they usually survive for around a hundred years.