Poplar Lombardy or Populus Nigra Italica is a species of tall deciduous trees from the willow family Salicaceae, mainly used as a tall screen or windbreak.
Originating as a named species in the 17th century it came from the area of Lombardy in Italy where it grew in abundance on the banks of the river Po and is perfectly happy coping with the hot dry summers growing less well in warm wet conditions where its life span could be much reduced. As a species, it was first introduced into Great Britain in the middle of the 17th century and to North America in the latter quarter of the 17th century.
Populus Nigra, from which the species Italica was derived, can be found and is native to other parts of Europe, northwest Africa and southwest or central parts of Asia. As fast-growing trees of between 60-90cms per year and growing to an eventual height of 15-30 metres, they can often be viewed from afar as a long elegant columnar line at the edge of cultivated areas such as orchards, golf courses and farmland where their close erect branches can afford shelter to smaller plants and vulnerable areas where wind may be a destructive influence.
Poplar Lombardy is also sometimes found as an attractive feature along walkways or roads especially through parkland. Recommended planting distance for any of these purposes would be between 2.5-3 metres apart in a sunny aspect with reasonable, moist but well-drained soil, needing good moisture to grow at the speed they do.
The foliage of Populus Nigra Italica emerges as bright green in spring, retained through the summer but turning to a pale yellow in autumn, with the grey-green bark maturing with age to a black furrowed appearance. It is a good tree for attracting insects and popular, no pun intended, as a nesting site for birds.