Populus nigra 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Salicales Salicaceae

Scientific Name: Populus nigra L.
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Black Poplar
Popululs padensis J.Gordon, Dermer & R.Edmonds
Populus flexibilis Rozier
Populus italica (Münchh.) Moench
Populus neapolitana Ten.
Populus pyramidalis Rozier
Populus thevestina Dode
Taxonomic Source(s): The Plant List. 2016. The Plant List. Version 1.1. RBG Kew. Available at:

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2017-01-12
Assessor(s): Harvey-Brown, Y., Barstow, M., Mark, J. & Rivers, M.C.
Reviewer(s): Belyaeva-Chamberlain, I.
Contributor(s): Bogunić, F. & Vanden Broeck, A.
Populus nigra is a very widespread species occurring across Europe, North Africa, the Caucasus, The Middle East and into Central Asia and China. The population is likely to be large to support such a range however in Europe the species is becoming increasingly threatened by human activity and genetic introgression with cultivar hybrids. The full scale of the decline and the impact of this threat throughout the species range is unknown. Populus nigra is classed here as Data Deficient due to inadequate information on threat, population size and decline. It is recommended that these data are collected.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Populus nigra is a widespread species. It is common over much of Europe from the UK in the north west to Portugal in the south west to Turkey in south east and Latvia in the north east. From Europe its distribution reaches as far east as China taking in much of the Middle East and and is found further south in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia (CABI 2015). The species has an estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) of over 18,000,000 km2.
Countries occurrence:
Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Andorra; Armenia (Armenia); Austria; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; China (Xinjiang); Croatia; Czech Republic; France (Corsica, France (mainland)); Georgia; Germany; Gibraltar; Greece (Greece (mainland)); Hungary; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Ireland; Italy (Italy (mainland), Sardegna, Sicilia); Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Lebanon; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Moldova; Monaco; Montenegro; Morocco; Netherlands; Pakistan; Poland; Portugal (Portugal (mainland) - Introduced); Russian Federation (Central European Russia, European Russia, Kaliningrad, Northwest European Russia); Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain (Baleares, Spain (mainland)); Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia; Turkey (Turkey-in-Asia, Turkey-in-Europe); Ukraine (Krym, Ukraine (main part)); United Kingdom (Great Britain, Northern Ireland); Uzbekistan
Belgium; Denmark
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:In Europe a decline in population size has been reported; mostly due to habitat conversion and habitat loss. In parts of western Europe the P. nigra is considered close to extinction (de Rigo et al. 2016). In Bosnia specifically only up to 300 individuals of 'pure' P. nigra are thought to exist (F. Bogunić pers. comm. 2016). Within Belgium (Vanden Broeck et al. 2005) and in Switzerland only 900 individuals are thought to persist (Csencsics et al. 2009). The species is considered similarly in the UK where only 7,000 trees are thought to remain (Cottrell 2004). Within Spain, Portugal and Albania the population is thought to be stable but the situation in other countries in Europe is uncertain. There is no population information available for Asian and African populations.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Populus nigra is a riparian tree species, growing predominantly on floodplains in mixed forests. It is a pioneer species and can grow into large colonies and stands or can produce large trees in isolation or persist in mixed forests (Vanden Broeck 2003, Richardson et al. 2014). This large tree can live for up to 400 years and its seeds are dispersed by wind or water (de Rigo et al. 2016).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Populus nigra is a valuable timber species. Its timber is shock-proof and fire proof and was previously important for furniture production. Now more frequently P. nigra hybrids are cultivated for the timber industry due to greater vigour. In fact over 63% of hybrid poplar cultivars are descended from P. nigra including Populus x canadensis Moench a cross between P. nigra and P. deltoides (Vanden Broeck 2003). Hybrids and varieties of this species are also planted around the world as ornamental species. One of the most popular of these is the Lombardy Poplar (Populus nigra 'Italica') which is a male 'pure' Black Poplar cultivar that is thought to originate from the Black Sea region, most likely as a spontaneous mutant (Zsuffa 1974). Due to the movement of this species across the globe it can be considered invasive such as in Australia (CABI 2015).

Populus nigra
itself is now more commonly used for the pulp and paper production and as a bioenergy crop due to its rapid growth habit. It is of economic value through the range of ecosystem services it provides. It helps maintain soil stability and protect watersheds in areas of high erosion rates (de Rigo et al. 2016). The species has the potential to be used for pollution mitigation, microclimate regulation and improved structural and biological diversity in agricultural landscape (de Rigo et al. 2016). Black Poplar extracts have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Populus nigra is considered seriously threatened and close to extinction in some parts of Europe. The greatest threat of the species is the conversion of riparian landscapes into agricultural or urban areas and other human disturbances. These include flood control systems which have shown to reduce the regeneration capacity of the species. These changes have led to population decline in parts of the species range and areas from which the species has completely disappeared. There is also the encroachment of cultivated hybrids species on natural stands of trees across Europe. Populus nigra populations have been previously over-exploited for timber too and these populations are now being replaced by hybrids (de Rigo et al. 2016). Populations outside of Europe are likely to be threatened by similar human disturbance however there is no explicit record of this.

Within Europe hybrids also pose another threat to species. Genetic introgression from cultivated clones and other Populus spp. is becoming common (Vanden Broeck 2003). The rate at which this occurs is variable and in Switzerland was found to pose less of a threat then originally expected however there is still cause for concern. Cultivated hybrids and exotic poplars like cultivars of Populus x canadensis and of P. x generosa are reproductive along several systems in Europe and may compete with Black Poplar to colonize new habitats (Tabbener and Cottrell 2003). The extent to which this is a threat across the species range is not yet fully understood, in Italy there is currently no evidence for it (A. Vanden Broeck pers. comm. 2016) hence the full impact of introgression needs further research especially in the species non-European range.

The species is vulnerable to rust disease Melampsora laricis-populina which although does not always result in mortality, results in a considerable reduction in growth volume (de Rigo et al. 2016).

There is no recorded evidence for threats to species within Asia or Africa but this is likely due to a lack of research but Populus nigra populations in these regions are likely to be threatened by similar biological and human action.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Within Europe several in situ programs are in place to restore riparian ecosystems and protect this species (Richardson et al. 2014). In the UK 2,000 trees have been replanted (Cottrell 2004). There are 31 European populations assigned as conservation units and included in the EUFGIS database, these have a designated status as gene conservation areas of forest trees at national level (EUFORGEN 2016). They have also recommended in situ conservation of native stands and the establishment of long term breeding plans to maintain the genetic diversity of the species (Vanden Broeck 2003). There are also 77 ex situ collections of P. nigra (BGCI 2017).

Populus nigra
has been subject to many conservation assessments. It is considered Critically Endangered in Hungary (Dénes 2001) and Endangered in the Czech Republic (Holub and Procházka 2000). It is however considered Least Concern in Switzerland (Moser et al. 2002), the United Kingdom (Cheffings and Farrell 2005) and Central Asia (Eastwood et al. 2009). The species has most recently been classed as Data Deficient in the European Red List.

Citation: Harvey-Brown, Y., Barstow, M., Mark, J. & Rivers, M.C. 2017. Populus nigra. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T63530A68106816. . Downloaded on 21 April 2018.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided