I moved to Denver in the 1980s from the south, and there were two distinct things to this region that I noticed almost immediately – magpies and Silver Poplars. Magpies are one of the most intelligent animals on the planet. These birds can recognize themselves in mirrors. They are very social, and I found their long tails and black and white feathers beautiful and unique from other birds. Then there were the Silver Poplars that struck me with their beauty. They line the streets of Denver and live in people’s yards. Silver Poplars grow to magnificent heights, dazzling us with their size, and peaceful, white, Aspen-like branch structure and dark trunks. They are like Aspens on steroids with their long lifespan and height.

Silver Poplar Identification

The Silver Poplar is commonly misidentified because the leaves have lobes like Maple trees, but the upper branches look like Aspens. The leaves are also Aspen-like because they shimmer and quake in the wind. To confuse things even more, their trunks can also look like Cottonwoods with gray with diamond shaped bark. Its oval-shaped crown makes the Silver Poplar a great shade tree. They grow fast and are very aesthetically pleasing, and so homeowners planted them extensively in the 1960s and 1970s in Denver and its suburbs.

Yard Tree or Trash Tree?

The Silver Poplar is not on Denver’s list of recommended trees for several reasons. This species is highly susceptible to disease and tree insects. Specifically, powdery mildew and leaf borers infect the leaves, and several types of cankers can cause large, black, calloused marks on the trunk or branches. Basically, these trees have one aliment after another and require constant care.

Furthermore, Poplars are not popular with allergy sufferers, especially in the spring when the Silver Poplar’s pollen becomes airborne. An additional annoyance is the Silver Poplar’s trait to aggressively reproduce by root suckering. Silver Poplar owners and their neighbors have to constantly deal with the small Poplar trees sprouting up in their lawns and gardens. Since Poplars are stressed by many aliments and environmental factors, the trees survive by sending out root suckers as far as they can. On top of this, the root systems invade main-line sewer and drain pipes, water and gas lines and foundations. Silver Poplars are like a cute baby animal that turns into a beast when it grows up. Homeowners thinking about planting Silver Poplars should consider all the characteristics of the tree before deciding. And, planting Silver Poplars on public right-aways is most likely a code violation.

poplar suckers

If you have Silver Poplars and are tired of all these hassles, you might want to consider removing the trees. Or, if you’re too in love with your Silver Poplars, you may want to look at ways to reduce the disease and tree insect stress by treatments. Ross Tree Company can help you with both. We can remove even the largest Silver Poplars found in Denver and we offer excellent plant health care advice and services. If you need a Silver Poplar removed or tree health care services, click here to fill out a tree service request form or call (303) 871-9121.