November Plant of the Month: White Poplar (MT: Luq) Populus alba

Project Pancake Flora –

 Plants and Nature Conveying Augmented Knowledge for Everyone

White Poplar bicoloured leaves. Photo thanks to Alex Casha.

The White Poplar tree may not be so popular with many locals as it is scarce, growing only in a handful of valleys and requiring a riparian habitat – in valleys alongside temporary or permanent watercourses. This deciduous tree makes up for its lack of foliage in winter by later covering up in relatively large bicoloured leaves which have a magical quality on windy days with the shimmering effect they create. The leaves are green from above and pure white from below. The silvery whitish tinge is owed to tiny hairs which cover it and give it a downy coating soft to the touch.

The bark is pale and the twigs are also white giving it a very special appearance particularly on moonlit nights. The wind pollinated catkins dress up the bare tree in late winter when spring is approaching and before the leaves grow back. It is easier to come across male trees (with light green smaller catkins). The tree is considered to have medicinal uses – Guido Lanfranco outlined its local application as an astringent, as a remedy for rheumatism and earache amongst other things. Other sources state that the leaves are rich in Vitamin C and are useful for tooth protection.

The Poplar is a strictly protected tree in Malta. 


Read more about PANCAKE here!

Check out our Community library for publications on local biodiversity!

Click here to get an insight into Trees and Shrubs of the Maltese Islands and their Habitats by Eman J. Calleja.

Photos by Alex Casha and text by Annalise Falzon

Plants and Nature Conveying Augmented Knowledge for Everyone

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