White Poplar: botanical image of the white polar plant

White Poplar

Populus alba

Family: Salicaceae

Description: A beautiful, hardy, deciduous tree growing to 20m in height. The leaves are a dark, grey/green on the top side and look white on the under side due to the white woolly hairs. Mainly 5 lobed and irregularly toothed. Male and female flowers are found on separate trees (male catkins red and female yellow/green). The female fruit once fertilized develops into fluffy cotton seeds, which mature and fall in late summer. The bark is pale grey with lines of diamond shaped pores.

Habit and cultivation: Native to central and southern Europe, Morocco and the Iberian Peninsula and naturalised in the UK often close to water.

Actions (known for): Anti-rheumatic, antiseptic, astringent, cholagogue, diuretic, anodyne and anti-inflammatory.

History: Often planted around public meeting places during Roman times. Planted as wind breaks along the coast and tolerant of ocean winds. The tree was consecrated to Hercules after he destroyed Cacus.

Parts used: Dried bark collected in spring as sap begins to rise.

Constituents (bio available chemicals): Phenolic glycosides: salicin, populin, benzoyl salicoside (populoside). Tannins.

Indications: Arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular rheumatism, UTIs, anorexia with stomach/liver disorders and colds with fever.

Dosage: Fluid extract (1:2): 15-30ml per week. Decoction of dried herb: 1-4g 3 x daily.

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia: Rheumatoid arthritis.

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