White Poplar

White Poplar

There are about 35 species of fast-growing, deciduous trees in this genus, which occurs throughout northern temperate regions. Poplars grow in a wide range of situations, tolerating wet soils, coastal conditions, and urban pollution; they make excellent screens, avenues, and windbreaks. They new leaves of some species are scented in spring, and many have ornamental variants. Poplars are closely related to willows (Salix species, see, White Willow) and similarly contain salicin, which reduces inflammation and relieves pain. Salicylates provided the basis for aspirin, which was synthesized in the 19th century. Many poplars are very similar in chemistry and are used interchangeably for medicinal purposes. Poplar bark comes mainly from P. alba, but P. nigra (Black Poplar), P. tremuloides (American Aspen), and other species are also used. Populus alba was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia (1895-1936) as a remedy for fevers and menstrual pain. Poplar buds are collected mainly from P. x. candicans, but other sources include P. balsamifera (balsam poplar), and P. nigra. Poplar buds were listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia (1916-1965) as an expectorant and stimulant. The sticky bud resin is similarly to propolis, the resinous substance used by bees for sealing honeycombs and gaps in the hive, which has known antibiotic properties. Populus x candicans is often confused with other plants known as "balm of Gilead", such as Abies balsamea (See, Balsam Fir) and Cedronella canariensis (See, Canary Balm). Populus may be derived from the arbor populi, "the people's tree", since poplars have long been planted along town streets.

The many different species of poplar have such similar chemicalproperties that they are used interchangeably for medicinal purposes. Poplars contain salicin, the precursor of aspirin, and a resin comparable to propolis, a
natural antibiotic. Poplars are, therefore, quite effective in reducing the pain and inflammation that accompany sore throats, fevers, headaches and arthritis.

Also known as the quaking aspen, this North American tree grows up to a hundred feet in height. An extract of its pale yellow bark was used traditionally to treat intermittent fevers and as a diuretic for urinary infections and gonorrhea. Native Americans made an ointment out of the bark, root, bud, and/or blossoms to treat wounds, burns and colds.

Robust, suckering tree with deciduous, broadly ovate, maple-like leaves, to 9cm (3½in) long, which have white, downy undersides. Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants in spring; males bear red catkins, 7cm (3in) long; female catkins are shorter and green, followed by capsules containing cottony seeds.

Common Name:
White Poplar
Other Names:
Abele, Black Poplar, European Aspen, Poplar, Poplar Bud, Quaking Aspen
Botanical Name:
Populus alba, Populus spp.
N Africa, C and W Asia, and Europe, Temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere
Deep, moist, well-drained soil in sun. Poplars have extensive root systems and should not be planted close to buildings or drainage systems. Prone to bacterial canker and fungal diseases. Aphids, poplar beetle larvae, and caterpillars may attack leaves. Populus alba tolerates drier conditions than most poplars. Prune P. x candicans 'Aurora' hard in late winter to encourage vigourous shoots and colorful new leaves.
By hardwood cuttings in winter; by removing suckers in autumn or winter.
Buds are collected in spring before opening (P. x candicans), and dried for infusions, liquid extracts, and tincture. Bark is stripped from side branches or coppiced trees, and used dried for decoctions, liquid extracts, and powders.
25m (80ft)
5-8m (15-25ft)
Is smaller growing, with golden yellow leaves.
Height: 15m (50ft)
Width: 12m (40ft)
Plant Facts:
Poplars are members of the willow, or Salicaceae family and are also known as cottonwoods and aspens. The color of the bark, shape of the leaves and height of the deciduous trees vary from species. The male and female flowers grow on separate trees and are shaped like cattails, or catkins.
Poplars are native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The trees prefer moist areas and full sun; they grow along riverbanks, in valleys and at high elevations.
Parts Used:
Bark, leaf, leaf bud
The bark is used fresh or dried for decoctions and tinctures. The buds, which are harvested in the spring, are used fresh or dried for salves and ointments. The leaves may also be used, but they have a less potent medicinal effect.
All poplars contain the phenolic glycosides of populin and salicylic acid, which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. Tannins, volatile oil, oleoresins and flavonoids are also present.
Chemical Constituents:
  • Chrysin
  • Gallic Acid
  • Humulene
  • Malic Acid
  • Mannite
  • Populin
  • Resin
  • Salicin
  • Tectochrysin
  • Indications:
    Poplars reduce the pain and inflammation that are associated with sore throats, arthritis, colds, headaches, rheumatism, fevers, and strained or aching muscles. Mildly diuretic, poplars help to ease the symptoms of cystitis and an enlarged prostate. In addition, the strong astringent and antibacterial action of poplars can relieve many skin conditions, including burns, cuts, wounds, abrasions, and hemorrhoids. As an expectorant, poplars help loosen and expel mucus to ease coughs, congestion and respiratory infections.
    An astringent, diuretic, cooling herb that reduces inflammation, relieves pain, and acts as a bitter tonic and alterative.
    Known Effects:
  • Blocks pain impulses to brain
  • Changes fever-control "thermostat" in brain
  • Antioxidant

  • Miscellaneous Information:
  • Antioxidant effect helps prevent rancidity in ointments.
  • Poplar bud is used as an additive in several pharmaceutical preparations.
  • Possible Additional Effects:
  • May reduce pain of strains and bruises when applied to skin
  • May treat coughs and colds when taken internally
  • May reduce fever
  • Medicinal Uses:
    Internally for rheumatoid arthritis, gout, fevers, lower back pain, urinary complaints, digestive and liver disorders, debility, and anorexia. Externally for chilblains, hemorrhoids, infected wounds, and sprains. Combined with Actaea racemosa (See, Black Cohosh) and Menyanthes trifoliata (See, Bog Bean) for rheumatoid arthritis; and with Chelone glabra (See, Turtlehead) and Mahonia aquifolium (See, Oregon Grape) for anorexia.
    To treat wounds, hemorrhoids, sunburn, frostbite, arthritis, and urinary tract infections. Germany's Commission E has approved the use of poplar to treat wounds, burns, and hemorrhoids.
    Warnings and Precautions:
    Not given to patients allergic to aspirin.
    People with allergic sensitivities to salicylates, which are commonly found in aspirin and bee stings, should not use any species of poplar unless under the close supervision of a health-care professional.

    Don't take if you:
  • Are pregnant, think you may be pregnant, or plant pregnancy in the near future
  • Have any chronic disease of the gastrointestinal tract, such as stomach or duodenal ulcers, reflux esophagitis, ulcerative colitis, spastic colitis, diverticulosis, or diverticulitis

  • Consult your doctor if you:
  • Take this herb for any medical problem that doesn't improve in 2 weeks (There may be safer, more effective treatments.)
  • Take any medicinal drugs or herbs including aspirin, laxatives, cold and cough remedies, antacids, vitamins, minerals, supplements, other prescription or non-prescription drugs

  • Pregnancy:
    Don't use unless prescribed by your doctor
    Don't use unless prescribed by your doctor
    Infants and Children:
    Treating infants and children under 2 with any herbal preparation is hazardous.
    None are expected if you are beyond childhood, under 45, not pregnant, basically healthy, take it for only a short time and do not exceed manufacturer's recommended dose.
  • Store in cool, dry area away from direct light, but don't freeze.
  • Store safely out of reach of children.
  • Don't store in bathroom medicine cabinet. Heat and moisture may change the action of the herb.
  • Safe Dosage:
    Consult your doctor for the appropriate dose for your condition.
    Typical Dose:
    A typical daily internal dose is approximately 10 gm of poplar leaves, while and external dose is approximately 5 gm of poplar leaf buds in a semi-solid preparation applied to the skin.
    Possible Side Effects:
    Poplar's side effects include allergic skin reactions, vomiting, and liver toxicity.
    Adverse Reactions, Side Effects, or Overdose Symptoms:
    Signs and Symptoms What to Do

    Itching and redness of skin Apply hydrocortisone ointment, available without prescription.
    Skin Rash Apply hydrocortisone ointment, available without prescription.
    Drug Interactions:
    Taking poplar with these drugs may increase the risk of bleeding and bruising:
    Aminosalicylic Acid, (Nemasol Sodium, Paser)
    Antithrombin III, (Thrombate III)
    Argatroban, (Argatroban)
    Aspirin, (Bufferin, Ecotrin)
    Bivalirudin, (Angiomax)
    Choline Magnesium Trisalicylate, (Trilisate)
    Choline Salicylate, (Teejel)
    Dalteparin, (Fragmin)
    Danaparoid, (Orgaran)
    Enoxaparin, (Lovenox)
    Fondaparinux, (Arixtra)
    Heparin, (Hepalean, Hep-Lock)
    Lepirudin, (Refludan)
    Salsalate, (Amgesic, Salflex)
    Tinzaparin, (Innohep)
    Warfarin, (Coumadin, Jantoven)
    Taking poplar with these drugs may interfere with the absorption of the drug:
    Ferric Gluconate, (Ferrlecit)
    Ferrous Fumarate, (Femiron, Feostat)
    Ferrous Gluconate, (Fergon, Novo-Ferrogluc)
    Ferrous Sulfate, (Feratab, Fer-Iron)
    Ferrous Sulfate and Ascorbic Acid, (FeroGrad 500, Vitelle Irospan)
    Iron-Dextran Complex, (Dexferrum, INFeD)
    Polysaccharide-Iron Complex, (Hytinic, Niferex)
    Methods of Administration:
    • Tincture:
      To relieve arthritis and joint and muscle pain, take 20-40 drops of the tincture in 1 cup of juice or water, 3 times daily

    • Decoction:
      For urinary pain linked to an enlarged prostate or cystitis, gently simmer 1 tsp. of the dried bark in 1 cup of water for 15-20 min. Remove from heat and steep 5 min. Drink 1 cup, 3 times daily.

    • Skin Wash:
      For sunburn, minor cuts, scrapes and abrasions, prepare the decoction (above). Soak a clean cloth in the decoction, wring out and apply to affected areas for 15-20 min., 1-2 times daily.

    • Bath Additive:
      To relieve hemorrhoids, prepare 4 cups of the decoction (above) using 1 cup of poplar bark and 2 qt. of water. Add to a warm bath, and soak for 15-20 mins., 1-2 times daily for symptom relief.

    • Commercial Preparations:
      For skin injuries, buy a commercially prepared poplar salve, and apply it to the affected areas 3-4 times daily.

    Encylopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright ©: 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited pp.327-328
    The Complete Guide to Natural Healing Copyright © 1999 International Masters Publishers AB™ Group 1 Card 76
    The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by Geo. T. Grossberg,MD and Barry Fox,PhD Copyright©2007 Barry Fox,PhD. Pg.374
    Vitamins, Herbs, Minerals & Supplements The Complete Guide by H. Winter Griffith, MD Copyright©1998 Fisher Books Pp.419-420