Populus nigra - L.
Black Cottonwood
Other English Common Names: Lombardy Poplar
Other Common Names: Lombardy poplar
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Populus nigra L. (TSN 22468)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.138736
Element Code: PDSAL01080
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Willow Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Salicales Salicaceae Populus
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Populus nigra
Taxonomic Comments: The naturalized North American material of Populus nigra, the European black poplar, is often called Populus nigra var. italica but is perhaps better treated taxonomically as a cultivar [Populus nigra 'Italica'], since it represents a one-time variant (with columnar growth form) of the species, found as a single tree in the Lombardy region of Italy several centuries ago, and propagated as cuttings.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 22Mar1994
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (13Oct2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (SNA), Arizona (SNA), Arkansas (SNA), Colorado (SNA), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (SNA), Florida (SNA), Georgia (SNR), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Iowa (SNA), Kansas (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Louisiana (SNA), Maine (SNA), Maryland (SNA), Massachusetts (SNR), Michigan (SNA), Minnesota (SNA), Mississippi (SNA), Missouri (SNA), Nebraska (SNA), Nevada (SNA), New Hampshire (SNA), New Jersey (SNA), New Mexico (SNA), New York (SNA), North Carolina (SNA), North Dakota (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Oklahoma (SNA), Pennsylvania (SNA), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SNA), South Dakota (SNA), Tennessee (SNA), Texas (SNA), Utah (SNA), Vermont (SNA), Virginia (SNA), West Virginia (SNA), Wisconsin (SNA), Wyoming (SNA)
Canada British Columbia (SNA), Nova Scotia (SNA), Ontario (SNA), Prince Edward Island (SNA), Quebec (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States ALexotic, ARexotic, AZexotic, COexotic, CTexotic, DCexotic, DEexotic, FLexotic, GA, IAexotic, ILexotic, INexotic, KSexotic, KYexotic, LAexotic, MA, MDexotic, MEexotic, MIexotic, MNexotic, MOexotic, MSexotic, NCexotic, NDexotic, NEexotic, NHexotic, NJexotic, NMexotic, NVexotic, NYexotic, OHexotic, OKexotic, PAexotic, RIexotic, SCexotic, SDexotic, TNexotic, TXexotic, UTexotic, VAexotic, VTexotic, WIexotic, WVexotic, WYexotic
Canada BCexotic, NSexotic, ONexotic, PEexotic, QCexotic

Range Map
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Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
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Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
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Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: Low/Insignificant
Rounded I-Rank: Low
I-Rank Reasons Summary: Widely planted and long-persisting where planted due to vigorous sprouting, but not invading except in very localized areas.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Low/Insignificant
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: Medium
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Medium/Low
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: Low
I-Rank Review Date: 14Mar2006
Evaluator: K. Maybury
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Europe

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Low/Insignificant

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Low significance
Comments: No evidence of significant alterations in most systems; some disruption of natural dune migration in Michigan is possible as exotic plants in general in these areas have caused dune stabilization (Albert 1999).

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: This tree suckers freely from the base and roots and so can persist near where it is planted but it does not produce seeds and cannot "migrate" to establish itself elsewhere (Little 1979, Gilman and Watson 1994). Therefore, it is unlikely that it has much impact on the structure of native vegetation. An exception may be in some dune systems, at least in Michigan (Albert 1999, Choberka et al. 2001), but as this species is probably persisting and spreading from residential development---allowed only on the forested portions of the dunes---it is unlikey that its presence represents substantial changes in vegetation structure. In dune systems on Long Island, in contrast, Populus nigra does not seem to have become widely established (E. Lamont, pers. comm. to L. Morse 2006).

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: As this species is mainly persisting from former cultivation significant alterations in composition are not expected.

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: No disporportionate impacts reported; however, intraspecific hybridization is possible between P. nigra and the native P. deltoides at least in controlled conditions. In Europe, introgression of genes from the hybrid (P. x canadensis or P. x euramericana), and from P. nigra var. italica, into their native stands of pure P. nigra is of concern (see Van den Broeck et al. 2001, Benetka et al. 2002) but it is unclear whether any spontaneous crossing of European material with native poplar in the U.S. has occurred.

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Low significance
Comments: Typically this species becomes established only locally where planted at homesites and along roadsides (Little 1979). However, It has established due to residential development on dune systems in the Great Lakes, which provide habitat for several animals and plants of conservation significance such as piping plover (Charadrius melodus) and Pitcher's thistle (Cirsium pitcheri) (Albert 1999).

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: Medium

6. Current Range Size in Nation:High significance
Comments: The generalized range includes most of the United States (Kartesz 1999).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:Low significance
Comments: Established outside of cultivation in extremely spotty, localized areas; most common in New England and the Midwest (J. Kartesz, draft county distribution data, 2006). Apparently seriously impacting biodiversity only in a few areas such as the Great Lakes dunes system.

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:High significance

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Coastal dunes, roadsides/urban areas, persisting at old homesites, windbreaks (Little, 1979, Voss 1985, Albert 1999).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Medium/Low

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Low significance
Comments: Generalized range is already nearly throughout.

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Insignificant
Comments: Generalized range is already nearly throughout.

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:High significance
Comments: Still widely sold and planted despite being prone to disease and very short-lived. Once planted, poplar sprouts can be long persisting but will rarely spread beyond the immediate vicinity (Little 1979). The Lombardy cultivar is all-male; seeds are not produced (Little 1979).

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:Unknown

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Insignificant
Comments: Primarily persists from former cultivation and does not spread significantly on its own (see Little 1979, Great Plains Flora Association 1986).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Escaped in riparian areas in South Africa (Nel et al. 2004) Also escaped in Canada (Kartesz 1999) and in Australia (Australian Weeds Committee 2003), presumably in similar habitats.

16. Reproductive Characteristics:Low significance
Comments: Agressive and prolific resprouter but otherwise not reproductively aggressive. All male; no seeds produced.

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: Low

17. General Management Difficulty:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Inferred. Several online gardening discussion pages are devoted to killing the the root system of this tree to stop the constant resprouting. Most indicate that herbicide applied to freshly cut stumps, plus treating the suckers as they appear will work with repeat applications usually necessary. Removing the bark and cambium from a 2" circumference of the tree or other types of girdling is also recomended.

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Low significance
Comments: Inferred.

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Insignificant
Comments: Selective herbicide application should not harm nearby vegetation.

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:High significance
Comments: Still widely planted on private lands despite advice against it from most gardening experts. Eradication from non-private lands should pose few accessibility problems, however.

Other Considerations: Nearly all the naturalized North American material of Populus nigra, the European black poplar, is called Populus nigra var. italica but is perhaps better treated taxonomically as a cultivar [Populus nigra 'Italica'], since it represents a one-time variant (with columnar growth form) of the species, found as a single tree in the Lombardy region of Italy several centuries ago, and propagated as cuttings. Exclusive of this Lombardy mutant, the European black poplar is very rarely cultivated in North America, but nonetheless has been reported as an escape at least in Pennsylvania (L. Morse, pers. comm., 2006).
Authors/Contributors
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Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Albert, D. A. 1999. Natural community abstract for open dunes. Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing. 3 pp.

  • Australian Weeds Committee. 2003. Weed identification and information. Online: www.weeds.org.au/weedident.htm. Accessed 2006.

  • Benetka, V., K. Vackova, I. Bartakova, M. Pospiskova, and M. Rasl. 2002. Introgression in black poplar (Populus nigra L. ssp. nigra) and its transmission. Journal of Forest Science 48: 115-120.

  • Choberka, E. G., M. R. Penskar, and P. J. Higman. 2001. Special plant abstract for Tanacetum huronense (Lake Huron tansy). Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing. 3 pp.

  • Gilman, E. F., and D. G. Watson. 1994. Populus nigra 'Italica': Lombardy poplar. USFS fact sheet ST-501, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, Gainesville.

  • Great Plains Flora Association (R.L. McGregor, coordinator; T.M. Barkley, ed., R.E. Brooks and E.K. Schofield, associate eds.). 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 1392 pp.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1996. Species distribution data at state and province level for vascular plant taxa of the United States, Canada, and Greenland (accepted records), from unpublished data files at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, December, 1996.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Little, E.L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agriculture Handbook No. 541. U.S. Forest Service, Washington, D.C. 375 pp.

  • Nel, J. L., D. M. Richardson, M. Rouget, T. N. Mgidi, N. Mdzeke, D. C. Le Maitre, B. W. van Wilgen, L. Schonegevei, L. Henderson, and S. Neser. A proposed classification of invasive alien plant species in South Africa: Towards prioritizing species and areas for managment action. South African Journal of Science 100: 53-62.

  • Van den Broeck, A. H., V. Storme, J. Van Slycken, E. Van Bockstaele, and W. Boerjan. 2001. Mating system of Populus nigra L. and gene flow with cultivated poplars; Implications for in situ restoration. EUFORGEN, Report of the seventh meeting, 22-27 October, Osijec, Croatia.

  • Voss, E.G. 1985. Michigan flora. Part II. Dicotyledons. Cranbrook Institute of Science and University of Michigan Herbarium. Ann Arbor, Michigan. 1212 pp.

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