Genetically Superior Curly Poplar (Populus canescans x alba)

PP 17,525
More details, sizes and pricing
Curly Poplar leaf formation
Curly Poplar leaf formation

Curly Poplar is a cross of Populus canescans with Populus alba. The fast growing Curly Poplar produces an attractive highly-figured wood grain that makes it valuable as veneer. This tree was discovered as a naturally occurring mutated sprout of an un-named poplar tree that grew in a cultivated area in Maryland. The original plant was cultivated by Mr. Sam Grober in his yard in Evanston, Illinois, and researched by Dr. Rick Meilan at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Curly Poplar trees have an upright trunk and a round crown. They can reach 65 ft. tall at maturity with high, distinct branches.

Curly Poplar is patented by Purdue University and all propagation is prohibited without express authorization from Purdue Research Foundation. Click here to read the full story of Sam Grober and Figured Poplar.

Curly Poplar at 1 year old – planted in wet area.
Curly Poplar at 1 year old – planted in wet area.

1. How fast do they grow?
Incredibly fast with ample moisture and weed control, 6 - 8 ft. the first year is possible. Annual growth rates of 1 inch caliper or more are expected, making harvest in 20 years or less possible. The mother tree at Evanston, Illinois, was 23 inches in diameter and 65 ft. tall at 24 years old.

2. What is the potential value of Curly Poplar?
It has been estimated that Curly Poplar veneer logs could be worth as much as Oak, Cherry or Walnut because of the figured pattern in the wood. Using recent prices, this gives a 24-inch diameter log 16 ft. long a value range of $460 to $1,380 or more. The tree pictured on page 14 was 23 inches in diameter at 24 years old. We believe with proper care and a little fertilizer these Curly Poplar trees could grow to this size in 20 years or less.

3. What plant spacing should be used for Curly Poplar?
Current research shows a 15 x 20 ft. spacing (140 trees per acre) should be a good spacing. This is similar to the spacing used in walnut and cherry plantings. You may also consider using Curly Poplar as a windbreak for walnut and cherry plantations. For windbreaks, space trees 12-15 ft. apart in 1 or 2 rows around your plantation. This could provide for a valuable harvest 10 years or more ahead of the walnut and cherry trees and provide wind protection the first 15 years – when it is most needed in these plantations.

Curly Poplar at 2 1/2 years old in fall color.
Curly Poplar at 2 1/2 years old in fall color.

4. What type of soil conditions will Curly Poplar grow in?
Curly Poplar will grow in a wide range of soil conditions, from moist soils that occasionally flood to heavy clay soils with high water tables. We have trees that are growing where water was standing 6 inches deep for 2 - 3 weeks at a time around the trees.

5. Where will Curly Poplar grow?
They will grow in plant hardiness zones 4 - 7 with at least an average annual rainfall of 30 inches per year. Curly Poplar may grow in zone 8 and possibly 9 based on the natural range of both parent species. Further testing on range continues at this time.